A couple of weeks ago I woke up in the middle of the night with these words ringing in my ears – “God the Father” – “God the Father” – “God the Father”.
It is a long time now since I had a fresh and powerful revelation of the fact that God was and is my Father. That realisation changed the way I saw everything and everyone. Nevertheless I still find it hard to grasp the full implications of it.
That the term, for many, is clouded by their negative experience of a human father is very obvious. I have rarely spoken on this subject without having a reaction from someone who has great difficulty accepting God as a loving Father because of their negative experience of a human father.
But yet the fact remains – God is primarily “Father” and there are good grounds for supporting the conclusion that “Father” is his primary title. Writing to the early church the Apostle Paul made this foundational statement –
“For us there is but one God, the Father …”
1 Corinthians 8:6
Indeed, as Paul hints here, not only (as some Christians seem to think) is God Father of those who happen to believe in him – he is in fact Father of all – irrespective of whether they acknowledge him as such or not. This is also inferred by the prophet Malachi –
“Are we not all children of the same Father? Are we not all created by the same God?”
That is obviously not to say of course that many are not, as Jesus points out, “lost” in the “far country” far from the father’s house and his loving embrace.
But the fact remains – “There is only one God—the Father”. I say again – the God we worship is Father.
I am not an expert on Islam by any means – but I am led to believe that in Islam God is primarily seen as the Judge. The same is true to some extend in the Old Testament.
In Islam law, not grace, is dominant and, some historians tell us, this theology had, at one point in history, an impact on Christianity. So we see in the history of the Church the appearance of Laws, Regulations, Church Courts, trials, and executions – all in the name of Christ. And of course the thirst after political power – which again is a principal mirrored in Islam.
The truth is – Law is the very opposite of grace. Where you have a legal model in religion – everything is measured by debits and credits (the opposite of grace and mercy) and duty (the opposite of love). And so, in history, the church became an institution governed by law and both mirrored and married itself to the political powers of this world.
In so doing we lost grace, love, mercy and truth – to a system of rules, regulations, and punishments. One historian has called this the “Subversion of Christianity”.
I believe we are living through days where God is longing to restore the true image of who He is – and days in which he longs to see that mirrored in his children. And it is as children of The Father we need to see ourselves. Not members of an organisation – not primarily as servants and slaves, but as sons and daughters. And it is only in so much as we believe and behave in a manner which befits our relationship to Father that the world will see him as he truly is. If I live like a slave, or an employee, or a servant, I do not mirror God The Father.
None of this is in any way to detract from the other attributes of God – but primarily he is Father. The first creed of the early church was this –
“I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth …”
And the common prayer, taught by Jesus as the model prayer, repeated by millions every day is – “Our Father who is in heaven”. Not our Judge who is in heaven, not our King who is in heaven, not our master who is in heaven (although these are all legitimate titles) but “Our Father”. He is primarily and above everything else – our Father.
You remember perhaps, in the book of the prophet Jeremiah – when God’s people had deserted him to follow other lovers, this is his cry –
“Will you not from this time cry to Me, ‘My Father, You are the guide of my youth?
Jeremiah 3: 4
Think also of Psalm 89 (24 – 26) – as God recounts of David –
“But My faithfulness and My mercy shall be with him, And in My name his horn shall be exalted. Also I will set his hand over the sea, And his right hand over the rivers. He shall cry to Me, ‘You are my Father, My God, and the rock of my salvation.”
God longs to be your Father – to relate to you as Father – to be loved by you as Father – to be approached by you as a son or daughter approaching a loving, good and gracious father. He longs to be worshipped as Father – to be forever Father to you.