With Sunday being Father’s Day, I quickly remembered something wonderful that happened to me a couple of years ago. As I was settling into my seat on an American Airlines flight back to Miami from New Mexico, I noticed something strange. A white male passenger seated across from me was busy reading a book with a black man’s picture on the cover. I focused through somewhat smudged eyeglasses to see whose picture it was and discovered it was a shot of a younger Bill Cosby. The gentleman was reading Cosby’s classic Fatherhood.
I could not pass up the opportunity to let this man know how much I appreciated his publicly reading a book written by a black man. He smiled and said every race and religion 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!
Don’t be mistaken. It was not the love of maleness, masculinity, muscularity or the 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 unapologetic, unashamed and 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 and 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 scripture, the Gospel writer, through the mouth of Jesus himself, encourages us to consider the greatest love ever demonstrated: “For God so loved the world.” Such powerful words!
First, we notice the perimeter of God’s love. He loved all of humankind. His love was not relegated only to the rich and famous or 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 humankind.
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 or herself.
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.
We 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 all praise to our Father in Heaven.
The Dr. Walter T. Richardson is pastor-emeritus of Sweet Home Missionary Baptist Church in South Miami-Dade County and chairman of the Miami-Dade Community Relations Board. He may be contacted at wtrichardson@Bellsouth.net. Website: WTRMinistries.com