Jesus insists his disciples must repudiate all earthly fathers of whatever description in preference for the one true heavenly Father.
I once listened to the testimony of Pastor E.A. Adeboye of the Redeemed Christian Church of God. He stated that his last child, a baby-boy, quickly became his favourite child. But one day, the child fell sick. The more Adeboye prayed, the worse the boy became. In desperation, he asked God: “Why won’t you heal my son?” The Lord replied: “Because he is your son, I won’t heal him.” Therefore, Adeboye quickly changed his line of prayer. He declared that the boy was God’s son and asked God to heal him. When he did this, the boy was healed.
God’s message here is crystal clear: the children we presume to be ours are actually God’s children. We are just their guardians. This makes it all the more surprising that virtually everyone in Redeemed Church still refers to Adeboye affectionately as “Daddy G.O.” But if Adeboye is not allowed to be father to his biological son, how can he be “Daddy” to other peoples’ children? Surely, everybody in Redeemed knows that Adeboye himself has no other Father but God. Time and again, Adeboye has insisted he should not be called “Daddy,” but his church-members have simply refused to listen.
Jesus defines parentage strictly from the eternal perspective. As usual, he presents a dichotomy between sons of God and men. Heavenly fatherhood links us to God and makes us sons of righteousness. Earthly fatherhood ties us to the devil and makes us slaves of sin. (John 8:32-34). Jesus warns that: “a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever.” (John 8:35). This means those who persist in earthly father/son relationships cannot expect to spend eternity with the heavenly Father.
Jesus insists his disciples must have no other Father but God. We must repudiate all earthly fathers of whatever description in preference for the one true heavenly Father. The kingdom of God is open to sons of God but closed to sons of men. Jesus says: “Unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3). Sons of men have to be “born again” in order to become children of God. (John 3:3-5).
The “new birth” has its own kingdom dynamics. Children of God cannot be children of men simultaneously. Neither can they be fathers of men. Jesus insists: “that which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” (John 3:6). “Men of God” do not inherit the kingdom of God. Jesus’ salvation involves men receiving the power to become children of God. (John 1:12). Thus, the bible begins in Genesis with a son of God in the garden, but ends in Revelation with a Son of God on the throne.
Jesus said to God at the end of his ministry: “I have manifested your name to the men whom you have given me out of the world.” (John 17:6). “I have declared to them your name.” (John 17:26). The name Jesus declares to his disciples is “our Father.” He reveals that God is no longer classically “God;” distant, foreign and fearsome. He is now “our Father;” close, intimate and loving. Therefore, Jesus gives us a new directive. He says: “When you pray, say: our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.” (Luke 11:2).
The name we are now required to hallow is “Father.” It must be of exclusive application to God and to God alone. Jesus says categorically: “Do not call anyone on earth your father; for one is your Father, he who is in heaven.” (Matthew 23:9). Since obedience is the key to divine sonship (Matthew 12:48-50); this directive must be strictly adhered to by all believers.
We choose to be sons of the heavenly Father by consciously acting the way God does. Jesus says: “Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew 5:44-45).
Rejection of men
It is like Father, like son. Jesus told the Jews: “If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham.” (John 8:39). If we do the works of God, then we are God’s children. If we don’t, we are not. Since the Father is merciful to all without discrimination, we must also be merciful if we are his children. Jesus says: “If you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:46-48).
This means we must reject totally the ways of men and no longer be subject to their dictates. Jesus makes the resulting alienation from earthly fatherhood an absolute requirement for discipleship: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father… he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26).
Jesus only promises eternal life to those prepared to forsake all natural relationships. He says: “No one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields- and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life.” (Mark 10:29-30). Significantly, there is a singular exception in the case of relinquished fathers. The heirs of eternal life relinquish their earthly fathers but do not receive a hundredfold return as with other relatives. We relinquish our earthly fathers in order to have only one Father; our Father in heaven.
A living parable
Kenneth King, my wife’s “old man,” was in his late-seventies and in poor health. He lived in Guyana and had to undertake dialysis twice a week. This was very expensive and the costs were virtually bankrupting him in his retirement. My wife and I discussed the matter, wondering how we could raise money on a regular basis to send to him. In Lagos, dialysis costs 30,000 naira (250 dollars) a session, so the sums involved were too much for our lean resources.
I ended the discussion by telling her: “Look Karen, there is little we can do in this matter. God will provide.” Suddenly the Holy Spirit interjected and said to me: “Femi, don’t say God will provide. Say Our Father will provide.” I immediately relayed this to my wife: “The Holy Spirit says Our Father will provide.”
The next morning, she got an email from Georgetown. The government of Guyana had decided to take over the funding of Kenneth King’s dialysis treatment in appreciation for his past services to the country. Immediately, the Holy Spirit said to me: “Your Father has done it.”
Beloved Christians: stop calling your pastor “Daddy.” You must have no other Father but God.