From Genesis to Malachi there is no instance of an individual speaking of God as Father. Moses, Abraham, David or Isaiah did not use this name for God. It was the Son of God who told us we could say, “Father” when we turn to Him in our prayers and in our need.
And he said to them, “When you pray, say: ‘Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come…’” (Luke 11:2)
I’ve been thinking about my earthly father this week, mostly about his sense of humor. He seemed always happy and quick to share funny stories with others. When I read this verse, I wondered if my heavenly Father enjoys laughter in the same way. I also thought how easy it is to attribute to God the same qualities of our earthly fathers, sometimes in grave error.
My dad was a good man who worked hard and loved people. He was generous to me, even spoiled me. For a long time, I thought God would do the same. My father was a smart person, but my heavenly Father is wiser and knows that what I want is not always the best choice for me, a lesson that took some time to learn!
Others struggle with thoughts of a father who was less kind, even cruel or abusive. How can a heavenly Father be thought of as loving and perfect when the word ‘father’ is filled with horrid connotations? For some, this is an insurmountable learning curve.
Still, Jesus Christ told us to call God, “Father” because He wanted to bring sunshine into our souls and hope into our lives. He wanted us to know that God is more than wisdom, power, and justice, He is also relational, caring, protective, all things that a good father should be.
The devotional writer adds that God is Father to everybody, but not all are His children. Those created by His loving hand have gone astray. All became alienated from their true heritage by sin, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)
Christ came into the world to reveal God as Father, but also to seek His lost children and bring us back home again in a new relationship. That is, whoever receives Jesus into their hearts also receives the Spirit of adoption and becomes a child of God by a new birth. In those, Christ lives, gives His life, becomes a brother. We speak the name Father with a new sense of relationship, one not the same as when He is acknowledged as Creator.
For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 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!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God… (Romans 8:14–16)
He is now “Abba” an ancient term that means “Daddy.” By calling Him Father, I acknowledge Him as my Creator, sustainer and source of both this life and the life to come. By calling Him Abba, I declare that He is far more than that.