Why God Isn't Like Your Father
May 04, 2018
The God of the universe as our personal heavenly Father is a powerful analogy, or a least it should be.

The truth is, far too often the way we view our heavenly Father has been warped by less than ideal experiences with our earthly dads. Dads who disappoint us, reject us, and hurt us often lead us to believe that our heavenly Dad will too. Karl Martin, in his book Stand, analyzes five different types of fathers and explains how their failures might affect our view of God.

#1. The Absent Father
Absent fathers are all too common nowadays. According to the US Census Bureau, one of three children live without their biological father in the home. Abandonment, divorce, and early death are often the culprits of absent fatherhood.

If you grew up with an absent father, you might fear rejection or harbor resentment toward your heavenly Father too.

#2. The Ambivalent Father
This is a variation of the absent father. While an ambivalent father might be physically present, he isn’t present emotionally. This type of father is marked by passivity and constant distractions.

If your father was an ambivalent father, you may doubt whether God truly loves you and cares for you—and if He does, it only feels like a distant love.

#3. The Ambitious Father
An ambitious father has high (perhaps even unattainable) standards for his children . . . and no room for failure. He expects only success in grades, sports, career, etc.

If you had an ambitious father, you may find yourself trying to perform for God and believing that with good behavior you will eventually earn His love.

#4. The Authoritarian Father
You might call this father the my-way-or-the-highway father. He is a highly legalistic, rule-focused type of father.

Growing up with an authoritarian father might lead you to believe God is harsh, condemning, and focused on your failures.

#5. The Abusive Father
An abusive father inflicted pain on you physically, emotionally, or sexually as a child.

If you grew up with an abusive father, you might believe that God is to be feared and not trusted.

Karl Martin says, “Here’s the truth we need to embrace: our heavenly Father is not absent, ambivalent, ambitious, authoritarian, or abusive. No, He is Abba, He is the perfect Father.”

God isn’t an absent Father. He is a “father to the fatherless” (Psalm 68:5 NIV).

God isn’t an ambivalent Father. He is always listening and cares for His children deeply.

God isn’t an ambitious Father. He is the God of grace. His love is offered freely and doesn’t depend on your performance.

God isn’t an authoritarian Father. He delights in you and who you are today.

God isn’t an abusive Father. He is a God of healing who fights to protect His children.
Stand is a call to really live. To redefine what it means to take a stand and fully live out your Christian life. It is planting your feet on the foundational truth of who God is and who you are in Him and the reality of what He's done. It is defending others and being prepared to stand out from the world.

Stand will be of great help to younger Christians confronted with real life, opposition, contemporary culture, and temptation to compromise. It is equally valuable for mature Christians seeking to pursue their original vision with renewed energy and determination.  
Karl Martin is the senior minister at Central, a city church in Edinburgh, UK, with a big vision. He is also the founder of Cairn, a movement of mission and discipleship, training and building relationships with the Celtic nations. Karl is passionate about equipping, encouraging, and releasing individuals in leadership. He is married to Niki, and they have four daughters who have given him a love of rom-coms, dance movies, and Downton Abbey. He would be playing cricket, rugby, and football for England if it wasn't for an old knee injury. He tweets regularly at @revdkarlmartin.