Last week the results of an interesting survey by LifeWay was published. A test group was given 16 possible qualities, and they had to decide which of these would be traits of a “good parent”. The test was done against the background of the upcoming Mother’s day and Father’s day – presumably a time when Americans give more thought on parenthood.
The sixteen qualities they could choose from, were: Loving, Supporting, Protecting, Encouraging, Understanding, Involved, Trusting, Teaching, Tender, Providing, Consistent, Fun, Admitting Mistakes, Generous, Religious, Committed Christian. The results created a bit of a stirrup, because being a “Committed Christian” did not feature in the top 5 traits deemed important by Americans. The results can be seen here.
What caught my attention though, was the top 5 traits that did hit the mark: “loving”, “supporting”, “protecting”, “encouraging” and “involved. It is interesting for me because those 5, are the same attributes with which the Bible describes the character of God.
- Loving: In the Old Testament our Lord chooses to self reveal Him with the words, that He is a God “abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Ex 34:6 ESV). The most quoted New Testament verse also starts with “For God so loved the world . . .” (Joh 3:16). Need I say more?
- Supporting: Through the prophet Isaiah the Lord said to His children: “I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you” (Is 43:1–2)
- Protecting: From personal experience the Psalmist rejoices: “The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them. Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!” (Ps 34:7-8)
- Encouraging: We serve a God who changed the name of his discouraged servant, Abram to Abraham – meaning “father of a multitude“. The intention of the new name, was that it had to encourage Abraham and build his faith each time he heard someone calling him by his new name. He did the same with the wavering Simon, calling him Peter – the immovable rock.
- Involved: Deism is the belief that God created the world and walked away. True Christianity however, cannot hold this viewpoint. If anything, we believe that God did not turn His back on us. He intervened – stepped in if you will – by becoming a fellow human being to die on a cross for our iniquities.
Obviously the Lord also has other important traits – but I’m wondering if we can’t change people’s negative stigma about “God“, by rather focusing on these 5 attributes. The way we talk about God, has an immense influence on how people “see” Him. We have so much to offer when presenting the Gospel. Apparently these are characteristics that are important for this generation, so let us use it. After all, being reunited with our loving Father is precisely what our message is all about.