To a reader:
I am frequently asked about (and sometimes taken to task by readers in the process!) the occasional references in my books to God being the Father of all mankind, or to my saying that God’s Spirit resides in all.
Many of my perspectives about God’s Fatherhood stem from my own experience as a father. For about an eight year period, one of my sons disowned me as his father. He went so far as to renounce me in writing, and called another man “Dad.” Thankfully, that season of his rebellion is past and we are now in relationship again. Yet the love in my heart for him during that time taught me many lessons about God himself. I loved this son no less than my other sons. There was no difference in the love I felt for him. And this is the key point: He was no less my son during his time of rebellion than he was before, or than he is now. He was still my son. My spirit, my life, even my personality were still evident in him. He even looked like me! He could pretend to deny the connection, but my fatherhood was evident and alive in everything about him.
I believe it is the same with God and his creation. Some say that my view cannot come from Scripture. I would say it comes from the very foundation of Scripture—from Genesis 2 and 3. God created man in his image. What can this possibly mean but that God’s Spirit, his very life, exists within mankind? No one could live without God’s life beating inside him. When we speak of man’s soul, we are recognizing that God placed something unique in man, a tiny piece of himself that distinguishes man from the rest of creation. God lives within all men and women. What is God’s Spirit but life itself? That life, that in-his-imageness, is reflected in every human being. I find nothing in Scripture to indicate that sin removed that divine fingerprint from the heart of man. Sin created a breach which must be dealt with. But God never took away his intrinsic life.
The fact that many men and women do not recognize the connection with their Father, even deny his existence, or deny his truth by their rebellion, does not change the fact that he is their Creator who gave them life. My son’s denial of me did not change the fact of my fatherness. Neither does the rebellion of mankind change the fact of God’s Fatherness. I do not believe we can adequately or correctly understand the mission of Jesus, or the message of the Gospels, without this underlying perspective of the universal Fatherhood. It is at this point that the Gospels come alive and fully make sense. Jesus came to lead us home to our Father, in the same way that my wayward son eventually returned to me.
I am always at a loss to understand why readers occasionally find this an offensive perspective. I would be very interested to know what you think of what I have said, and what being made “in God’s image” means to you.