I recently began a new chapter of my life: fatherhood. My wife and I welcomed our first child, Lucy, into the world less than a month ago. (Yes, she’s named after the Narnian queen.) While it has not been long since Lucy was born, fatherhood has already given me a whole new perspective on the love of God and the mission of the family. While I still have a lifetime to learn, I wanted to offer some reflections on love, theology and family from the perspective of a new father.
But the Greatest of These Is Love
“I just love her so much.” That is what my wife just told me while affectionately holding our daughter. I know this might be an obvious statement, but the love we have for Lucy has its origins in eternity past and will continue forever.
Before anything existed, the Trinity was. Before creation, the Father was loving the Son in and through the Spirit (John 17:24). This love has existed before the beginning of time, and we will experience it fully in the new creation (1 Corinthians 13:12). Out of this eternal love, God created man. Adam communed with God himself. And God knew it was not good for Adam to be alone. Out of the love within the Godhead, Adam was given another to share in this love. God gave Adam and Eve a grand mission to be fruitful and multiply, spreading the goodness of God’s love and expanding Eden to the ends of the earth. Out of Trinitarian love, God blesses Adam and Eve and tells them to make a family to bless the world (Genesis 1:26-28).
The nature of love is outward. Out of God’s Trinitarian love, He creates the family to be the vehicle that expands His blessing. The love that originated within the Trinity extends to the family for the benefit for others. “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
God has not only saved us from sin. He also has saved us into a family.
The Serpent in the Home
While I am new to fatherhood, I can already sense how this new expanded family exposes my sin. I’ve experienced the mixed thoughts of pride, frustration and anger that arise when caring for a newborn. “I need sleep, why won’t you stop crying?” “Isn’t it your turn to change the diaper?” “Don’t cry now, everybody is watching.”
This world is broken by sin, and you do not have to look hard to see brokenness in the family. We live in a world that is confused about marriage and family. We must define what we mean by “marriage.” We must minister to children hurt by broken homes. If God intended to bless the world through the family, then the enemy will try to destroy it.
And this has always been Satan’s tactic. It does not take long to see how the serpent slithers into families in Scripture. Cain murders his brother. Abraham has a child with his servant and abandons them. David lusts after another man’s wife, and his children get into a mess all their own. Despite this family drama, God reaffirms His commitment to the family. He chose Abraham to be the family that jumpstarts his redemptive plan. He narrows his redemptive focus through the family of David. Perhaps most scandalously of all, God chose to send His Son to young betrothed girl. While Joseph had the right to divorce Mary, God wanted this family to stick together. (Matthew 1:19-20). The eternal Son enters into this earthly family.
“Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight, at the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more”
– Mr. Beaver in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
“Behold, I am making all things new!”
– Jesus in Revelation 21:5
The curse of sin may have fractured the family, but through Jesus the family is being made new. God is restoring the family in (at least) three different ways:
- We are adopted into God’s family.
Through Christ’s work on the cross, He has made a way for us to be adopted into God’s family (Romans 8:15-17). God uses the family as a beautiful picture of what happens in our salvation. Where we were once dead in our sins (Ephesians 2:1), alienated from God (Colossians 1:21), we are now adopted as God’s children (Galatians 4:6-7), who share in the love between the Father and Son (John 17:23).
- We have a new family, the Church.
God has not only saved us from sin. He also has saved us into a family. New Testament authors refer to fellow Christians as “brothers” and “sisters.” Through Christ we have a new family of faith. This is beautiful news for those coming from broken homes. If sin has torn through the fabric of your biological family, you can be comforted knowing that you have brothers and sisters who love you and want to walk alongside you through the difficulties of life.
- We have a renewed family mission.
Jesus has made it possible for families to fulfill their original mandate in beautiful new way. Through the Great Commission, the original family mission has expanded to all believers. We are to spread God’s blessing to every tribe, nation, and tongue by inviting them to participate in the family of God.
I love my daughter. I love my wife. But my love doesn’t compare to the love the Father has for them. God has woven the family in the story of creation, fall, redemption and restoration. The love we have for our families grows out of the love of God, and is for the benefit of others, drawing them into God’s family.