Seeking the Ultimate Father Experience

Some call God “Father”, while many people ask the question: “Does it make a difference if I believe in God, or have a relationship with something I call God?” Regardless of where you are born or what culture you live in, the chances are, one day, you will ask this fundamental question. It gets to the heart of the matter about what we need to be happy and fulfilled.

Human beings have created hundreds or perhaps thousands of different religions around the world. People naturally seek a higher understanding, something beyond the physical world, to give them the answers to what they seek.

The Search for Relationship

It’s an unusual person who simply wants to be alone. Recently, they found a man in the woods of Maine who had lived by himself for 27 years. That is an unusual accomplishment! But he sometimes needed to steal food to survive. It may be impossible to never need the help or support of others.

We are generally aware that we need relationships. We learn from each other, and rely on one another for shelter and safety. But most importantly, we can only feel love through relationships. The relationships we have add to who we become, and help us to fulfill our potential.

“My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person, he believed in me.” – Jim Valvano

If you examine relationships with yourself at the center, you can organize them on a horizontal axis: brothers, sisters, friends, community members, etc. But there is also a vertical axis: grandparents, parents, elders and youngers. In Western culture, we are very aware of the power of horizontal relationships, while Asian cultures stress the value of vertical relationships. Both perspectives have merit, but both are incomplete without the other.

Jesus stressed the value of both types of relationships in a culture where life was at times cruel and cheap. Greek and Roman slaves didn’t experience their value as human beings, being compromised by authoritarian oppression. Therefore, Jesus’ teaching was revolutionary and threatening to the status quo. Jesus validated that we must love the Lord our God with all our heart and mind, and love our neighbor as ourself. We must love up and love out.

Finding the Lost Sheep

You may remember the story of the lost sheep. The significance of that story was brought home to me last week while travelling in the Highlands of Scotland. We drove for miles and miles seeing only sheep on lonely hills. There didn’t seem to be fences in some places and I asked my brother-in-law, who is a farmer, “What happens when you lose a sheep up here in the mountains?” He quickly replied, “You can’t worry about it, you take care of the herd.” The power of Jesus’ teaching hit me! The narratives Jesus taught advised to go in search of the lost one. That is the value of a single life.

father son, 3 generationsAt the same time, Jesus and other religious figures stress the power of loving God and your parents, taking care of the vertical relationships in your life. To love God is as essential as loving your neighbor because it causes you to reflect on, and honor where you came from – to have gratitude for those who gave life to you.

As a young child, it’s hard to understand your parent’s heart and motivation, or the gift of life you have been given. But as you mature, the value of vertical relationships emerge. I have seen simple gifts, or words from my son, bring tears to my husband’s eyes. This evokes tears from my son as they share a common heart. We are lonely without a father in our lives. Perhaps that is why Jesus emphasized God as our Father.

Today is Father’s Day, and it’s important to take time to honor our fathers and our father’s fathers, all the way back to our original father, God.

Heavenly Father and Mother

Jewish and Christian scriptures call God our Heavenly Father. In the Lotus sutra, the buddha is called “Father of the World.” In other traditions, the absolute being is also identified as the Divine Mother. Even religions that customarily employ patriarchal imagery for God also describe a motherly aspect: God as nurturer, fount of compassion and sustainer.

“There is something in the nature of God that corresponds to our maleness and our femaleness,” remarks bishop Desmond Tutu.

God’s fatherhood and motherhood may be identified with heaven and earth cooperating to create and nurture all living things. God’s parental role is not limited to the act of creation; it is an enduring affective relationship of the heart. Love reveals God’s parental aspect better than anything. Even Islam, which avoids describing God as a divine father (Islam rejects polytheism in which god’s physically procreate), includes traditions that describe God’s love by analogy to a father’s love for his son.

Love is central to Father Moon’s teaching about the parenthood of God: “the relationship of the Father and his children is the foundation of the universe.” Elaborating, he teaches that we can and should establish a genuinely filial relationship to God, attending him and sharing his heart. God, for his part, is ever searching for children who can meet him in that intimate embrace. (World Scripture, 2007)

What world scriptures have to say about God as a parent

You men are all my children, and I am your Father. For age upon age, you Have been scorched by multitudinous woes, And I have saved you all. (Lotus Sutra 3. Buddhism)

The Great Principle, the Divine, is my womb; I cast the seed into it; There is the origin of all creatures. Whatever forms originate in any wombs, the real womb is the Divine, the Great Principle. I am the Father that gives the seed.  (Bhagavad-Gita 14.4. Hinduism)

Thou art Father, Mother, Friend, Brother. With Thee as succorer in all places, what fear have I? (Adi Granth, Majh M.5, p. 103. Sikhism)

For God, people of the whole world are all my children. All of you equally must understand that I am your Parent. The daily concern of the Parent is single heartedly how best I can advance arrangements to save all of you. (Ofudesaki 4.79; 14.35. Tenrikyo)

Our Father, it is your universe, it is your will, let us be at peace, let the souls of the people be cool. You are our Father; remove all evil from our path. (Nuer Prayer. African Traditional Religions)Depositphotos_73212229_s-2015

Heaven and Earth are the father and mother of the ten thousand things. People are the sensibility of the ten thousand things. (Book of History 5.1.1: The Great Declaration. Confucianism)

Once a man came to the Messenger with his son. The Messenger embraced the boy and said, “Do you have mercy upon him?” The father said, “Yes.” Then the Messenger replied, “Allah is more merciful upon him than you.” (Hadith of Bukhari. Islam)

Mother Earth, have pity on us and give us food to eat! Father Sun, bless all our children and may our paths be straight! (Blackfoot Prayer. Native American Religions)

What man of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for fish, will give him a serpent? If you, then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! (Matthew 7.10-11)

Teachings of Sun Myung Moon

God is our friend, our greatest friend. God is our father, elder brother, king, and creator. How proud we should be to have such a God! (293:161, May 26, 1998)

What is the Creator like, the Lord who created us? He is the lord of our body and mind. He is the lord of our ideas and the world of emotions. He is the lord of our hearts. We absolutely need such a God. We do not just need Him conceptually; we do not just need to recognize He exists; we need Him absolutely. Losing the Lord is sorrow. God is more than our Lord. Taking one more step, God is our Father. God is Lord because He created us and created the heavens and the earth, but He did not stop at being our Lord. He is our Father. Therefore, He seeks to clarify the bond between us by revealing, “I am your Father, and you are my sons and daughters.” He longs to rejoice in that relationship, singing songs of happiness. This hope is the center of the Father’s daily living, the center of His thought, and the purpose for which He created human beings. (7:48-49, July 12, 1959)

When you go to the spirit world, you will not only have a Heavenly Father but also a Heavenly Mother. Can a new life be born without both a father and a mother? The dual characteristics of God are as divine Father and Mother, who were to be united as one in Adam and Eve. Therefore, we can say that through either our father or our mother there lies a gate to heaven.”

God’s purpose of creation is to create an ideal family where God can dwell with human beings. Although human beings fell, in their hearts they long for the day when God can live as the Father of the human family and they can live as members of God’s family. We long to attend God as our eternal Father, become members of His family and live with God eternally. That is our hope, our ideal, our life, and our joy. That will be the completion of God’s long-sought purpose. (7:264-65 September 27, 1959)

Don’t simply serve God. Become God’s object partner, who says, “Father, here I am. How anxiously you have waited for this moment for 6,000 years! How many tears you have shed! How desperately you have yearned for me! Now, here I am.” This is what God has desired to hear from you. After such a reunion, when God blesses you with dominion over all things in heaven and on earth, He would like to forget all the pain of the past and say, “I rejoice, for today is the day of My birth.” God wants to put all the pain of the past 6,000 years behind him and sing songs of heartfelt love with His children in the new heaven and new earth. Then we will clearly know that God is our Father, and we are His children. (7:171, August 30, 1959)

Discussion
  1. God is known by many different names – Creator, Allah, Jehovah, Father, the Great Spirit to name a few. All these names have different connotations and provoke assumptions. What is your conception of God? How does your understanding of God power your life?
  2. Moon often talked about the need for an advisory council of religious leaders in the United Nations. How do you think an Inter-Religious Council could be of help to the United Nations in building peace?

 

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