Christianity can simply be a theory for some, while God always intended it to be relational so that from deep within us would come an excited cry, "Abba Father!" Tony Fitzgerald shares his heart on this powerful topic.

Tony Fitzgerald
Tony Fitzgerald

It is a joy to communicate with you some thoughts and beliefs that God has made real to me over the past years concerning the subject of Fathering. These truths have helped form my approach to ministry and laid a strong foundation from which I have endeavored to build upon. They are also some of the pivotal foundation truths on which Churches are built, men and woman are mentored and the Kingdom of God advances.

A number of years ago, after a series of bizarre events that left me stranded in Barcelona, Spain, I found myself sitting at the airport with a friend waiting to board a plane to London. It had been a very frustrating few days and the day ahead promised to be long. In other words my attitude left something to be desired. The small boarding area was tightly packed and opposite me was a woman with a young daughter. The child would run at me and try to jump on my toes then return to her mother laughing. This continued until one time she ran at me and hit me in the chest. By now I was becoming slightly amused. She did it one more time and realizing I was playing with her she stopped, looked me in the eye and said, "Are you my daddy?" I replied, "No I am not, but if I was, I would be thrilled that you were my daughter."

As I sat there, I heard the cry in that young child's heart to know who her daddy was. I further realized that there are millions of people like her, not only looking for an answer to that question in the natural, but also in their spiritual life where they are endeavoring to serve God, but do not know Him as Father.

I have come to understand that fundamentally God is a Father. He deals with us, corrects, supports and leads us, all from this truth. In other words, everything He does is from His Father's heart. When this understanding becomes real to us it affects the way we approach our life, the way we see ourselves and others, and the way we conduct our relationships.

One of the wonderful teachings of Jesus on this subject is John 14: 1-20. Here Jesus takes us on a journey of understanding the centrality of knowing God as Father. From knowing this truth He points out that the works that He did we can do and even greater.

Many have come to know Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord, the Holy Spirit as the one who empowers, but still struggle to know God as Father in a personal way.

Growing up in an evangelical Church background I only heard the first part of John 14 taught in context with death and funerals. It always related to Heaven; our mansion in the sky. Many years ago, as I was beginning to understand God as Father, this passage of scripture came alive to me in a whole new way.

This teaching is positioned between the Last Supper and Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane; the most traumatic time in the life of the disciples. If you have a red letter edition of the Bible and read through John 14-17 you will notice there are very few black words; rather it is the continual words of Jesus as He prepares His disciples to walk through 3 or 4 life changing days. The cross and resurrection will bring them to a place where they have watched Jesus live for the past 3 years.

In John 16:25 Jesus gives us the key to understanding this passage when He says "These things I have spoken to you in figurative language; but the time is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figurative language but I will tell you plainly about the Father." With this in mind, let's look at the first few verses of John 14.

Up to this point in the disciple's life, there was only room in God's presence for one on earth at a time i.e. a High Priest could go in representing the rest. They saw Jesus living in free communication with the Father, but here Jesus is encouraging them to stand firm, because in His Father's house (figuratively speaking) there are many mansions. In other words, not only room for one, but for many.

He says to them "I go to prepare a place for you...that where I am there you may be also". Where was He that they were not? The answer is, positioned as a son in relationship with His Father. He said to them, "Where I go you know and the way you know." Thomas questioned this saying, "Lord we do not know where you are going, and how can we know the way?" If Jesus was simply talking about heaven, then Thomas was right, he did not know heaven and certainly did not know the way to get there. But in reply to Thomas' question, Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father except through Me." Here Jesus is stating that the Father is the destination and Jesus Himself is the way.

John 16 is a wonderful narrative of what happened over the next few days. He explains that they would not see Him for a little while but would then see Him for a little while because He was going to the Father. In this lies the miracle of the cross, the resurrection, the acceptance of the sacrifice by the Father, and Jesus returning to the disciples to breathe upon them and impart spiritual life. They were born again as sons of the Father and were now where Jesus was!

The truth of this is what makes Christianity real for you and me. That we can become sons of our heavenly Father through what Jesus has done. Without this, Christianity is simply a theory while God always intended it to be relational so that from deep within us would come an excited cry, "Abba Father!"

It is my prayer for you that you might grow in your understanding of the Fatherhood of God which will enable you to reach your destiny. CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.