Updated: Apr 4, 2020
As we think about how we can best talk to our adopted & foster teenagers about God, it becomes clear very quickly that one of the most difficult Gospel concepts for them to embrace is the idea of God as our father. Depending on their past experiences with their birth father, embracing God as their heavenly father may be truly challenging to them. As parents, how do we help them over come their past and beginning embracing God as father?
Let’s first ask ourselves three questions . . . .
Am I Embracing Him as my Father?
At the end of the day, do we truly embrace God as our father? Is it part of our primary identity? Does it affect how we live on a daily basis? As our teenagers may be struggling with this Gospel concept of God as our father, are we setting an example to them - an example that screams to them “God is my father - He can be your father too!” Bottom line . . . one of the best ways we can help our teens embrace God as father, is to make sure we are fully embracing Him as father too. Makes sense, right?
2. Am I Addressing Him as my Father?
In Matthew 6:9 Jesus begins The Lord’s Prayer with these two words . . . “Our Father.” There are dozens of different ways Christ could have chosen to address God, but as he was setting an example of prayer for his disciples (and us 2,000 years later), he chose to address God as father. God has been called many things throughout old and new testament scripture, but the title that Jesus himself embraced and taught was Father. So as we pray, perhaps we could consider beginning our prayers by addressing God as Father. It may just help us put in to perspective the incredible father / daughter, father / son relationship with have with him. And as we get in the habit of doing this, let’s make sure our teenagers hear us do it. Let’s encourage them to do the same. God truly is our father - let’s address him that way.
3. Am I Comparing Him to my Earthly Father?
The idea that God is our father is typically thought of as a comparative analogy. In other words we are comparing what we know of fatherhood to our relationship with God. For many of us, that is ok. For those of us who had great earthly fathers, we don’t mind comparing our relationship with God to our father. But there is an obvious problem here . . . Many of our adopted and foster teenagers did not have fathers that would be considered great. Perhaps their birth father was abusive, neglectful, angry, mean, distant etc… They don’t (nor would we) want to compare their relationship with God to that father. And so, might I suggest we look at this - not as a comparative analogy - but rather a contrasting analogy. In other words, let's help our teenagers see God the Father as a contrast to their early father. Let’s take them to I Corinthians 13:4-7 and show them what fatherly love truly is and how it is completely different than what they experienced here on earth. God is a father, unlike any father they have ever had. He is a father, as Matthew 7:11 says, that will provide for us “much more” than anything we have experienced before.
Let’s answer these three questions for our selves. Let’s think about the answers. And let’s begin to fully embrace God as our father as we help our adopted & foster teenagers do the very same thing.