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Why is fatherlessness such a tragedy?

by Dan Cruver Published Oct 11, 2013

sunrise over earth from space

Do you know the primary reason fatherlessness is an absolute tragedy? It’s because ultimately fatherlessness turns reality into unreality.

In John 17, Jesus himself tells us that the Fatherloved [him] before the foundation of the world” (v. 24).  And then just two verses later Jesus says that his Father sent him into the world so that the love with which his Father loved him may be in us (v. 26).

What do these two verses in John 17 tell us? They at least tell us that before anything other than God existed, there was a Father who loved His Son and a Son who loved his Father. “Jesus Christ, God the Son,” Mike Reeves writes, “is the Logic, the blueprint for creation. He is the one eternally loved by the Father; creation is about the extension of that love outward so that it might be enjoyed by others. The fountain of love brimmed over. The Father so delighted in his Son that his love for him overflowed, so that the Son might be the firstborn among many sons” (Delighting in the Trinity, p. 43).

Commenting on Jesus’ words in John 14 about “preparing a place” for us, Andreas Köstenberger and Scott Swain write, “the ‘place’ that Jesus prepares for the disciples is his filial place in the presence of the Father, the place where he has eternally basked in the Father’s love” (Father, Son, and Spirit: The Trinity and John’s Gospel, p. 144).

Adding his voice to this glorious chorus of praise to the Father and the Son, Gerrit Dawson writes,

The universe came to be as part of the eternal love story of the Father and the Son. Before the worlds began to be, the Father loved his Son and the Son loved the Father. In a mystery beyond description, this love occurred in the ‘bonds’ of the Holy Spirit. The third person of the Trinity was the personal glue, the love (as Augustine said) that ever flowed within the triune being. Indeed, all things were made out of the overflow of this love between the Father and the Son in the Spirit.

“More simply put, the universe came into being out of a great love story. In the virgin’s womb, this love touched down in the midst of our darkened, broken world. The incarnate God showed his sacred face in the infant Jesus so that we could now enter this love. He tasted the sorrow of this world so that we might be taken into the joy of the eternal love of the Father and the Son” (The Blessing Life: A Journey to Unexpected Joy, pp. 92-93).

Why all this talk about the love between the Father and the Son? Because of its importance. Without the Father’s love for His Son and the Son’s love for his Father, God is not God and there’s no such thing as creation. 

Created reality absolutely depends upon the love between the Father and the Son. This is the primary reason I believe fatherlessness in our world is a horrific tragedy. Its temporal presence ultimately points to the turning of reality into unreality should the Father ever stop loving His Son (which, by the way, will never, ever happen!).

I am convinced that the eternal love relationship between the Father and the Son is the primary reason James says that visiting orphans and widows in their affliction is done “before God, the Father” (James 1:27). Therefore, not only do we love each because our Triune God first loved us, but we also love the fatherless because the eternal Father first loved his eternal Son.

Might it be that the Christian motivation for loving the fatherless is far deeper, higher, and wider than any of us realize?

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