I have always been amazed by the contrast between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day celebrations. Generally, Mother’s Day is a great holiday and a reason for broad joy in which most recognize the hard and self-sacrificing work of mothers. Celebrating the mother is a social obligation that is assumed with enthusiasm because everyone has plenty of reasons to do so. Recognizing fathers, however, does not carry the same social weight and effusiveness decreases considerably. Both parents are important, but it seems that the emphasis and recognition are different.
I can understand that there are several factors that contribute to this situation, but I am still struck by the difference, especially in the way in which many churches celebrate both dates. I have noticed that during the service on Mother’s Day, apart from acknowledging and congratulating them, the message focuses on encouraging them and thanking them for their important work. All of this seems appropriate to me, but I notice the contrast when during the Father’s Day services the situation is different. Apart from the fact that recognition tends to be less, the message generally focuses on encouraging parents to improve their behavior and become more involved with their family. In other words, the tendency is to congratulate mothers and reprimand fathers.
It is true that many Christian parents need to assume more their spiritual responsibilities of their families and that the contrast may not be as great as I have perceived it, but I believe that fathers also need to hear a more positive message. Men need to hear the good they are doing and not just what they need to improve.
As men many of us grow up listening to the general message that our value is found in what we do and in the achievements we accomplish. However, the reality is that our true importance comes from who we are and not from what we do. Being comes before doing. For this reason, I am concerned when the emphasis shifts away from this fundamental truth as followers of Jesus. We need to listen and be reminded that our heavenly Father loves us unconditionally and that we are valuable and important.
Human beings, men and women, are valuable because we were created in the image and likeness of God (Gen. 1:27). God loves us unconditionally (1 John 4: 7-14). We can love the Lord only because He first loved us. This love does not depend on our actions but on divine grace. Therefore, regardless of our actions, God doesn’t change his love for us.
Furthermore, by receiving salvation in Jesus we become children of God (1 John 3: 1-3). As children, our relationship with the heavenly Father is already close and established forever. Our value and acceptance are total and permanent. Many of us are used to giving love, but we forget that we can give it because we have already received it from our Father. What we do flows from who we are and not the other way around.
In a world full of competition that values achievement more than the character of people, we need to remember that our true value is not found in what we do. We are created in the image of God; we are his children and God loves us unconditionally. Christian men and fathers need encouragement as well besides exhortation to improve. Who can you cheer on this week?