What’s the key to the earthly expression of a heavenly Father’s kingdom? Big clue: Look for the man with a father’s heart.
Big Picture: God created Time and Space as a palette for his great story of redemption and love. The story ends (which is really just another beginning) when the infinite heavenly realm is joined to the limited earthly realm, and the two become one. To accomplish this, Christ entered history. A great king, veiled as a lamb, is by far the most clever plot twist ever devised, right up until he tops it by allowing himself to be killed, then coming back from the dead. Then, if possible, the story gets even richer. Because of Christ, God is now able to place his divine essence right smack into the heart of humanity. The Holy Spirit is poured out. God begins to invade the planet to the tune of millions of people. “Just as My Father has granted Me a kingdom, I grant you” (Lu 22:29). Eventually the entire cosmos will be cleansed from the stain of sin. “Then comes the end, when He delivers up the kingdom to the…Father” (1 Cor. 15:24).
In spite of all the grandiosity, in human terms, the real showstopper may be how much the entire process hinged on God finding one man to start the ball rolling. Think about the vast scale of redemption, and realize, it had to start somewhere. How do you find that person? What qualities do you look for? I’m not talking about Jesus, I’m talking about the specific context in which he entered. Jesus didn’t float down from heaven. He came as a Jew, from the land of Israel—a race of prophets and priests. So where did they come from? From a guy named Abraham. “Abraham is our father,” they proudly said (John 8:39). Remember the children’s song, “Father Abraham”? We sing it for a reason. A lot hinged on this guy: Abram the pagan, later renamed Abraham, through trials and testing, became the friend of God. He had one legitimate son and twelve grandsons. And nothing would have happened in redemptive history without him.
America has founding fathers. Nations have founding fathers. Abraham, hero of the faith, was the original founding father. He was chosen for a specific reason. Do you know what it is?
“And the LORD said, ‘Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, since Abraham will surely become a great and mighty nation, and in him all the nations of the earth will be blessed? For I have chosen him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice; in order that the LORD may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him.’” (Gen. 18:17-19)
God chose Abraham because the Story was bigger and longer than one man’s life, and Abraham seemed uniquely willing to operate on those terms. See, it’s quite simple. One generation can’t fulfill what God intends. Redemption is multi-generational. It is bigger than what any one person, family, race, or period of time can achieve. God found in Abraham a man who was willing to invest in his children, to teach, command and raise them in the knowledge of God. There was no other way to get this job done. Beginnings are very important. A movement needs a founder. Nations, quite literally, began as families. So a father passes more than physical genes on to the next generation, he also establishes a certain moral and aesthetic genetic code for his progeny. This code must be taught and modeled as the culture, principles, focus and values which the father esteems. But if followers don’t follow, if sons don’t continue the legacy, what’s the point? God needed a man to think of himself not as a container of the coming reward, but a conduit. A river, not a lake. He needed a family man. Abe was willing to be that guy who thought beyond himself.
The Father in heaven needs fathers on earth. The value of moms is beyond dispute, and also self-evident. Yet after serving the purpose of conception, the role of fathers starts to get fuzzy. It shouldn’t. It mustn’t. It is key to this kingdom.