Many know in their heads that God is love, that he loves them, but fail to experience what that really means.
Because of negative or bad human experiences of ‘father’ they cannot understand or fully realise Father God’s embrace of his children. Perhaps their experience was performance oriented, passive – present but indifferent, authoritarian, abusive, occupied – always busy about work and no time for the children, absent by desertion or death, fault-finding/critical never affirming or encouraging, intellectual never emotional…
Perhaps it was the way they were taught as children, an over emphasis on the holiness, anger and justice of God, resulting in fear and no desire to draw near; or maybe it was that God’s otherness, majesty, power, glory, rule were emphasised with the result that God always seemed far away.
Whatever our earthly experience God redeems and fills full the true meaning and reality of being Father. And that it was Jesus was all about. Jesus came and revealed the Father heart of God in contrast to all our failed or even good fathers. Jesus said, “He who has seen me has seen the Father…”
It’s interesting to note here:
- That Muslims cannot call God ‘Father’, they have 99 other names they use for God, but not ‘Father’ for that would bring him to close.
- Jews know God as creator and covenant maker, and frequently referred to him as their King, Shepherd, Rock, Fortress, but only referred to God as Father in a formal sense (about 12 times) not in a personal, relational, intimate, sense.
But, and it’s a big BUT, when we step into the pages of the New Testament this is one of the staggering truths that confronts us.
- That God is Father
- That there is a Father Son relationship in the heart of the Godhead.
- That Jesus calls God “Father’ in a very intimate and personal way.
- That Jesus teaches us we can know God in the same way and share the same privileges He has in knowing the Father.
In speaking like this Jesus revealed something of the love that is at the heart of the Trinity.
- It’s at the heart of the Gospel: God so loved the world that he gave his only Son – where there’s a son there’s a father.
- At the age of twelve Jesus says ‘I must be about my Father’s business…’
- At his baptism we hear a voice from Heaven say, “This is my Beloved Son..”
- He taught the fatherhood of God – the Sermon on the Mount is scattered with references to God as Father.
- He taught us to pray, ‘Our Father…’
- In John chapters 14 – 17 there are something like 50 references to God as Father.
- And in John 14-17 Jesus revealed something of the intimacy of that relationship and how it was for us too – ‘we’ll come and make our home with him’!
- In the garden we find Jesus praying, ‘Abba, Father.’
Wow! I think God was really saying something loud and clear – this was staggering for the Jew, and for the Gentile.
We then find the same theme running into the various letters to the churches, with greetings along the lines of ‘Grace to you and peace from God our Father or the Father…’
Paul says that “because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba, Father!’ so you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.” Galatians 4:6,7.
God himself says “I will be a Father to you…” 2 Cor. 6:18
“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called the children of God; and so we are.” 1 John 3:1
“For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”” Romans 8:15
Wow! that is something! Do you know it?
A couple of songs:
The Father’s Song by Matt Reman
Father God I Wonder by Ishmael