When we look at Isaiah 9:6, the titles of Jesus there are so familiar that it is really easy to gloss over them. Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
They are poetic, elegant, truthful, and wonderful descriptions of who Jesus is, written more than 700 years before His birth. However, one of these terms can be exceedingly confusing if you think about it: How is Jesus our everlasting father? Don’t we already have a Heavenly Father? Isn’t Jesus the Son, not the Father? I did some extensive searching and couldn’t find anywhere else in scripture where Jesus is called our father. And yet, this is clearly what Isaiah is doing here. So what do we do with it?
Our confusion surrounding how Jesus is our everlasting father is certainly not helped by today’s confusion over who fathers are. What is a father? What are the attributes of a father? There is currently much uncertainty surrounding what has traditionally been very well understood- a father is a man who has children. But just this past week, the Cambridge Dictionary changed the definition of a man to “an adult who lives and identifies as male though they may have been said to have a different sex at birth.” In other words, they are using the word to define the word, and that is a never-ending circular logical fallacy. What is a man? “It is someone who identifies as a man, which is someone who identifies as a man, which is someone who identifies as a man… and so on and so forth.” This confusion is not just limited to men, but also women, and marriage. Congress redefined marriage last week in the so-called Respect for Marriage Act. This bill stripped away the previous definition of marriage as a union between one man and one woman and redefined it as a union between two individuals. But what is an individual? What ages are the individuals? We don’t know… we’ve taken yet another step into a world where objective truth is obfuscated.
I don’t bring this up just to irritate us all- though it pretty much does. Those of us who hold a traditional, biblically orthodox perspective on gender and identity are grieved by the constant reminders of how lost our culture is. There are many, if not the majority, in our country who are happy that we are moving in this direction. They say things like: “Why not just live and let live. Love is love, right? Any who disagree are labeled as ignorant, bigoted, hateful, intolerant, outdated or as having some kind of phobia.” So why bring this up again?
Because we need reminders to wake us up from this amazingly comfortable Christian bubble that we live in- especially to disciple and prepare our younger ones as they are sent out to face the realities of the world we live in. Our enemy loves to mess with our identity. If we don’t know who we are, we will be listless and in danger of wasting the lives that God designed us to live. And that is an absolute tragedy. We cannot serve God effectively if we don’t know who we are. Further, Satan loves to mess with the family, the Church, and sense of community. He wants us to put ourselves “first” and in doing so, find ourselves confused, lost, isolated, and alone.
What do we do with this mess? How are we to respond when we stand in a minority position that is increasingly viewed as outdated by the culture in general? We can respond with clarity and compassion. With clarity- we do not play word games, but look to the Word of God for truth and definitions- whether of man or of marriage, sin, or anything else. We engage in these conversations with compassion. Love must be the motivation in our discussions, not fear of persecution. We need to reach out the lifeline of God’s truth to those that are so lost and floundering in a sea of confusion that they lack even a basic sense of identity. That’s what we will be doing this weekend as we look at how Jesus is like an everlasting father to us. My hope is that we will clear up confusion on how Jesus is our everlasting father, by looking at defining characteristics of Jesus as our father in John chapter 1. Those of us who are earthly fathers can look at Jesus as a model, and we can all encourage the fathers in our lives to embrace his model and live courageously in a faltering world.
I invite you to join with us this weekend for our socially distanced service this Saturday afternoon at 3:30, or our Sunday morning service at 10:15, where you can join us online if you can’t make it in person. This will be our last week of adult Sunday School until January 8, which is also when children’s Sunday school will resume.
Don’t forget to join us for a fellowship lunch following the service, which will be followed by our annual meeting. Everyone is allowed at the meeting, but only members may vote.
Have a great weekend and I look forward to pursuing Christ, Community, and the Great Commission Together with you soon!
-Pastor Nathan Rice