"Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you. And I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” (2 Corinthians 6:17-18 NIV)
God has always been Father, but does that mean we have always been his children?
Many years ago, I was single. Then I got married and became a husband. A few years later we were blessed with our eldest daughter and I became a father. Sometimes that's the logic we apply to who God is. We are born again, we become a child of God and we automatically assume that is the point in time he became a Father.
Well, look at it this way. A couple of years after our eldest daughter was born we had a second daughter. I was already a father at that point in time so I did not become a father, I already was one. Our family was simply getting bigger and my fatherhood growing. So can we apply this picture to our heavenly Father? Maybe. God has always been the Father of Jesus and so the more the children he had the more his family would grow, the more his fatherhood would extend.
But even this is not a complete picture. We read in Ephesians 1:4-5 that we were chosen to be sons and daughters before the foundation of the world. Jeremiah was known before he was in his mother's womb (Jer 1:5). David writes in Psalm 139 that we were known intimately by God before our birth and that he was our Creator. God's fathering of us goes way beyond our human understanding.
Many of us have had painful experiences with our earthly parents, none of us have had perfect parents and that view can colour how we see our Heavenly Father. He is way and beyond anything we have experienced and however difficult that has been he is the Perfect Father. He has always been our Father. The trouble is, we wandered off in our own independence and thought we could manage life without him. He has pursued us and done everything to bring us back home. Through Jesus, he has made it possible to come back into relationship with him.
A couple of weeks ago we saw how God is Father. Put very simply he has lost his children and he wants them to be found and to come home.
Paul describes it like this: "God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ Therefore since we are God’s offspring....." (Acts 17:27-19 NIV). We are his offspring because he has always been our Father. We are invited to become children, sons and daughters, as we come home to him and that way is through Jesus and Jesus alone.