Sunday, August 9, 2009

Why is God my "Father"?

I think most often when we pray we address God as Father. Why is this? Mostly is because Jesus told us to in the Sermon on the Mount. Christianity is more or less unique in this view of God but we are losing our grasp on it's meaning as fatherhood is diminished in our culture so I think it bears some discussion. This story is told of my great-grandpa;

One of his grandchildren was walking out in the grove crying. His dad had told him to cut a branch he could be "switched" with. Grandpa said, "Here, let me see that." He then proceeded
to make little slits in the branch so when the father began to spank the child it broke. He thought it was funny. Apparently his opinion was that the father was being too hard on the child.

The problem is that earthly fathers aren't perfect. I realized mine wasn't (according to my subjective young opinion) as soon as I became self-aware enough to realize I wanted my own way and it wasn't always my dad's way. But God is perfect so we have to adjust our view of fatherhood. Here are five aspects of fatherhood that help re-establish God's right to fatherhood in our lives.

1. Right and Responsibility of ownership

Father-God owns me and everything there is. "in the beginning He created the heavens and the earth." In John 1 it tells us we were born by His will. And lastly if you are His child it is because He chose you in Christ before the started this whole universe (Eph. 1.4) So He has the right and responsibilities of ownership. This is a good thing because we have a good God. The problem is how far we earthly fathers have fallen. We must look beyond that to what God is and His original intention for Fatherhood looked like.

2. Paternity

Pater is the word which our word father comes from. It is also the root word for pattern. "Like father like son" is a biological fact. Genesis 1.26,27 tells us God created mankind in His own image so we are to be like our Father God. One of the main themes in the Sermon on the Mount is God's fatherhood. He says when we do all these good things we are sons of our Father in heaven. He calls us to be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect. He has given us a pattern but our sin has separated us from Him and we can't follow it.

3. Discipline

Any good father will discipline his child. Not all discipline is punishment but it is often hard or painful. My grandpa Smith was hard on his children but they were all good fathers and very successful in life. He knew life was tough and kids had to be toughened up to face it. So often today people think they want a soft god. We have become soft rebellious children but Hebrews 12 tells us:
Heb 12:5 and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, "MY SON, DO NOT REGARD LIGHTLY THE DISCIPLINE OF THE LORD, NOR FAINT WHEN YOU ARE
endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then
you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits,
and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.

4. Providence

A good father will Provide for his children. The idea behind providence is that God provides for His children Naturally-through the laws of nature, Soveriegnly, by active
involvement in this world's events, big or small , and Spiritually-through special interventions in the laws of nature. God is shepherding all of humanity and specifically his children for their good.
Again, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus teaches that God is a good father that provides for the tiniest things-even flowers and will provide for us. And most important to me He provides
Mercy. He takes the steps to restore our relationship as the father did in the parable of the Prodigal Son. Hebrews 4.16 tells me I can confidently draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

5. Legacy

This is another concept we've lost track of. It's where we get the word legend. God wants to make you part of his legend or story. He does this in this way:
-He has loved you from the founding of the universe and desired you to be his child
-He is using good and bad circumstances to cause you to see your need for mercy
-He has provided His Son as a sacrifice to pay for your sin-to restore your relationship
-He wants to breathe His Spirit into you to re-animate your dead stinking flesh
-His Spirit now resides in you as down-payment to get you on your feet and provide for you
until you are living on His estate under his full protection.
-Even though we can't see Him to emulate Him He has given us a "big brother" in Jesus, His
Son. All His fullness is in Jesus. Because of this we are not orphans or bastards.

So please, if you are in some way running from God, either in rebellion or denial, stop, turn around and embrace your eternal father as He is with His arms out to you.

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