Christians should have no other father but God.
I once listened to the testimony of Pastor E.A. Adeboye, the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God. He stated that for some time all his children were girls. Then, finally, God blessed him with a baby boy. The boy quickly became his favourite child. But one day, he fell sick. The more Adeboye prayed, the worse the boy became.
Finally, he challenged God: “Why are you not inclined to heal my son?” And then the Lord said to him: “Because he is your son, I am not going to heal him.” Quickly, he caught the revelation and changed his line of prayer: “Daddy, heal your own son,” he cried out to God. And the boy was healed.
It is therefore surprising that virtually everyone in the Redeemed Church still refers to Adeboye affectionately as “Daddy G.O.” But if Adeboye is not even allowed to be father to his own son, how can he be “Daddy” to other peoples’ children? Surely, everybody in Redeemed knows that Adeboye himself has no other Daddy but God. Time and again, Adeboye has insisted he should not be called “Daddy,” but his church-members have simply refused to listen.
Paul claims to be the father of Onesimus and Timothy (Philppians 1:10; 1 Timothy 1:8). He says to the Corinthians: “Though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel” (1 Corinthians 4:15-16). Following Paul’s pattern, many pastors fashion themselves as “fathers-in-the-Lord” of their church-members.
But Jesus takes a radically different position. He insists his disciples must have no other Father but God. They must repudiate their earthly fathers of whatever description in deference to the one true heavenly Father.
According to Jesus, the kingdom of God is closed to sons of men and only accessible to sons of God (John 3:3-5). This is because “that which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6). This makes it imperative for believers to be “born again” as children of the heavenly Father. Jesus says: “Unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3).
The “new birth” has its own kingdom dynamics. Children of God cannot be children of men simultaneously. Neither can they be fathers of men. “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).
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 “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: “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.
A living parable
Kenneth King, my wife’s “Guardian,” 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 burst in on the conversation and said to me: “Femi, God will not provide. Your Father will provide.” I immediately relayed this to my wife: “Daddy says God won’t provide, but he will.”
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 have no other Father but God.