God the Father
“This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven …
- from Matthew 6:9
“I believe in God the Father,”
- from The Apostles’ Creed
“Father” – this way of describing God was sparsely used in the Old Testament. But Jesus emphasized it over and over again. We relate to God as children relating to their father.
As a quick aside, it’s important to note that calling God “Father” doesn’t mean that God’s a man or male. Both men and women are made in God’s image and have equal dignity and value.
In recent history, many people have begun to feel uncomfortable calling God “Father.” It doesn’t take much to bring on this discomfort: a bad experience with an earthly parent, a desire to keep God at an arm’s length, a concern for God’s dignity. But God has introduced himself to us as “Father” and has invited us to call him “Father.” We don’t have the freedom to recreationally rename God.
God invites us to relate to him as Father. This, in turn, informs and reshapes how we think about fatherhood and how we evaluate our own experiences with fathers in the world. This is an example of a theological concept called “thinking around the circle the right way” that we’ll be talking about in the Systematic Theology class on Sunday nights (note the shameless plug!).
We need to learn to live with God’s fatherhood as a good gift that God’s given to us. “Father” is a relational name. This name demonstrates God’s eagerness to be connected to us in a familial way. When we embrace God as our father, we get the whole package with it: provision, intimacy, protection, and healing from our own negative experiences of fatherhood.
How can God’s fatherhood influence your relationship with him? If you need a concrete place to start, think about how having God as your father influences the way you pray.