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True fatherhood

... for your Father knows what you need before you ask him... Matthew 6.8

To what extent does God reflect our experience of fatherhood and to what extent do fathers reflect God? The former exposes the tendency to project human perceptions onto God, while the latter reveals a humbler and more legitimate approach. As Plato's Theory of Forms teaches, earthly experience is merely an inferior shadow of the perfect archetype which belongs to heaven. The alternative leads to the chaos that must have appalled Plato regarding the gods of classical Greece and Rome, which were magnified versions of human beings, both in their qualities and in their vices.

Heeding Plato puts us in step with the prophets and with Jesus, who help us to appreciate an alternative perspective. This is particularly relevant when it comes fatherhood, because our experience of human fathers is so mixed. God is more than a biological male who has played his part in the natural creation of another generation. Yet Jesus applies the label as a metaphor to convey the personality and the proximity of our Creator, rather than leaving him "veiled in glory" and therefore inaccessible.

God's fatherhood is perfect and we should not allow our own experience of fatherhood to compromise the worship of our heavenly Father. If there is to be any comparison it must be to the extent to which human fathers falls short; and this, not in a judgmental way but, so as to reassure those who have suffered bad parenting that they have a true Father who will love, protect and guide them perfectly. And, where our human fathers measure up better, praise God! May such inspire all of us fathers who struggle every day to fulfil our calling to love, protect and guide our children and, indeed, all children.



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