Jesus taught us that God is a Father to us, and He taught us to pray to God, calling God ‘Our Father in Heaven’.
“Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, Your name be revered!” Matthew 6:9
“Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:48
God as our Heavenly Father is a Bible truth many Christians fail to appreciate, especially if they were raised in church. The idea of God as ‘father’ tends to be treated as a childish nicety rather than a living truth for people young and old.
It might be, too, that in western culture the relevance of a father figure is minimised and relegated to value only for younger children. Western youth pursue their desire to be individuals as soon as they can, and today’s western parents tend to support that ambition. So fathers are only really relevant to westerners in their youngest years.
The idea, then, that God is our Father seems to us a childish idea, that we might teach to young children but quickly regard as sentimental once passed childhood.
So let’s stop and take stock of this amazing Bible truth.
God, the God of creation, Lord of everything that exists, offers you a quality of personal relationship that is among our most meaningful connections.
God offers Himself to you as your ‘father’.
Obviously people’s concepts of ‘father’ are affected by their experience of their human father. Some people see the word ‘father’ in a negative light, as some angry or abusive individual who anyone would want to escape. Others see ‘father’ as an irrelevant nicety, who may or may not add value to a person’s life. Yet others see ‘father’ as the almost unknown provider who has his own life and distractions. Yet others see ‘father’ as the one who abandoned them, or who they never met.
When God reveals Himself as ‘father’ He means all the very best connotations of that word. He means He is our ‘source’, since the Hebrew word for father, ‘Ab’, means source. He is also protector, provider, friend, counsellor, companion, nurturer, source of wisdom, one who creates a course into our future, encourager, mentor, guide and one who holds us in His deep affection.
God also means the kind of father to child relationship that was intended, rather than the western idea of the ‘disposable father’. In a tribal setting, away from all our modern sensibilities, the father was the anchor for the family through his whole life. He cared for, provided for, protected, guided and made wise decisions for the whole family, not just when they were children. The sons would have been apprenticed to their father and schooled to understand and value all the things the father held as values for the family.
The father, in that context, was a ‘source’ of much greater significance than in western culture.
In Bible culture a child is to have a long-term working relationship with the father.
Note Paul’s comment about Timothy, who Paul brought to faith and took with him on his journeys. Paul talked of Timothy working with him, in the same way a son does with a father.
“You know the proof of Timothy, that, as a son with the father, he served with me in the gospel.” Philippians 2:22
I have been told that the Greek word for mature son, huios, speaks of the son who has worked with his father long enough to be as skilled at the father’s business as the father is. When that time arrives the father might declare of the son that he is a beloved son who is approved by the father, “in whom the father is well pleased”. From that time on the son is a partner in the father’s business, not an employee. The word of the son has the same value as the word of the father. Such is the depth of unity and the level of relationship between father and son.
God said this of Jesus when endorsing Jesus for His ministry at the time of His baptism.
“As soon as Jesus was baptised He walked out of the water. Suddenly the heavens were opened, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and resting on Him. And a voice from heaven said, This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased!” Matthew 34:16,17
From that time on whatever Jesus did fully represented the Father. They were one in their ministry.
So, with those few thoughts in mind, let’s reflect on God being your Heavenly Father.
God offers Himself to you as your source, the life-long guide and protector, provider and friend, who will school you and bring you into His business, so you can do His will with His power and effectiveness.
God offers you a level of relationship where you can delight in His presence and He in being with you. Where you have free, welcome access into His throne room, not as an official, but as a much loved child. God will not abandon you or send you away, saying it’s time you fend for yourself, but will always be there for you, to coach and encourage you, guide and correct you, direct your steps and open doors ahead for you.
Above all He is delighted to embrace you, assuring you of His total commitment to you.
Consider the picture the Bible gives us through the Apostle Paul, of God’s love pouring over you like waves of the ocean, as the Holy Spirit pours God’s love onto you, from the inside out.
“Hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” Romans 5:5
Christian, it is time to stop playing at being independent and western and to admit that we need the ongoing support and care of a father. Connect yourself afresh to the most amazing father in all eternity, your creator God. Humble yourself and admit that you will be much better off apprenticed to God than to any other source in the universe. Commune with God and be enriched by the wonderful experience of having God as your ‘Heavenly Father’.