“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
As I was settling into my seat on an American Airlines flight returning to Miami from New Mexico a couple of weeks ago, I noticed something strange. A white male passenger seated across from me was busy reading a book written with a black man’s picture on the cover.
I focused my eyes through my dirty eyeglasses to see whose picture it was, and it was a younger Bill Cosby. The gentleman was reading Cosby’s classic “Fatherhood.” Now, I could not pass up the opportunity to let this man know how much I appreciated him publicly reading a book written by a black man. He smiled, and said every race has good and bad fathers, and what he was gleaning from this older book, written in 1986, was that the most important ingredient in effective fatherhood was love. Wow, what a lesson!
It was not the love of maleness, reproduction, nor perceived superiority over the “weaker” sex that made this book come alive for me when I read it when it was first published; it was Cosby’s unselfish love for his five children.
The three monotheistic religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam speak loudly about the fatherhood of God. They speak of His power in creation, His care and compassion for His created. And nowhere in Christian scripture is that love described more than in John’s gospel. In one verse, the most repeated verse in the Christian Scriptures, the Gospel writer through the mouth of Jesus himself encourages us to consider the greatest love ever demonstrated.
First, we notice the perimeter of God’s love. He loved all of humanity. His love was neither relegated to the rich and famous, nor the bold and beautiful. His love reached to the bad and the ugly, those living on the edge of night and darkness. He loved everybody everywhere, and He still loves everybody everywhere.
Second, we notice the proof of His love when He sacrificed His one and only son. He gave His best for the worst of fallen humanity. And so it seems that real love, at least, the love of a great father involves sacrificing, giving up something good that the giver would and could keep for himself.
Then, we notice the provision of His love. Regardless of status, social condition, or geographic location, all have the same privilege to eternal life with Him. God’s love has no flaw or fluctuation; no lack or limit; no impurity or indifference; no imperfection or indulgence; no shame or selfishness.
So every father loves each of his children and does not discriminate against any of them, but loves each of them equally, and treats each one equitably.
So, on this weekend when we celebrate all of the fathers of the world, we are thankful for the Father of us all. And we thank Him for His adequate, abundant, abounding, amazing, assuring, and available love. We thank Him for His blessed, beneficial, and benevolent love. Thank God for his comforting, considerate, compassionate, and consuming love.
Praise Him for his distinctive, delightful, deliberate, devoted, direct, and dynamic love. We honor Him for his enduring, essential, expressive, effective, encouraging, enjoyable, and eternal love. And yes, for faultless, fulfilling, faithful, fabulous, flowing, friendly, and free love — we give God, the Father, Praise.
The Rev. Dr. Walter T. Richardson is the senior pastor emeritus of the Sweet Home Missionary Baptist Church, 17201 Southwest 103rd Avenue in Perrine. He is also an adjunct professor of religion at St. Thomas University in Miami Gardens.