He is the one we expected to check under the bed for monsters or what those scary noises in the basement were. He instills a sense of safety and security for his children. To a young boy, he is Superman’s equivalent, to a young girl, a knight in shining armor, and while these opinions might grow and change with the child, a father will always be a man that deserves respect and earns trust, one whose advice carries weight and whose decisions we follow. A father is so many things to his children, and just his presence is often a comfort.
In many ways, God is personified in our earthly fathers. In fact, God’s people have always addressed Him as Father, and He commands us to do as much throughout the Scriptures. Job and David both cried out to God in their afflictions with the name “Father” on their lips. Jesus himself, in his sermon on the mount recorded in Matthew 6:9, instructs his people to begin their prayers saying “Our Father which art in Heaven…” My pastor, Rev. Holstege, gave a sermon about this very address that we so commonly take upon our lips, and much of the comfort that he brought was worth sharing.
To see the significance of this address, we need to understand the right we have to call this righteous God our Father. It is not our doing, for we could not choose him any more than a helpless, screaming child would claim his father on the day of his birth. By nature, we could never belong in His family since those dead in sin could never belong to a perfect Father. We bear the stains of Christ’s blood on our hands because of the sins that we continue to commit. How then can we have the right to address the almighty God as our Father?
We call God our Father only through the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. The very blood that colors our hands red is the price of the adoption that made us His. In Galatians 4:4-6 we read of the work that Christ did for us. “But when the fulness of time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman… to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.” Because Christ came to this earth as a man and paid for our sins, we are redeemed and adopted into God’s family. How amazing that we can call Him Father for Jesus’ sake!
So, what does it mean to call God our Father?
A young child does not have to be afraid of His loving father. He does not need to worry that, when he speaks to his father, he will be judged for what he says or how he says it. A child has no fear in addressing his father without barriers or without flowery words. He can just speak his heart and trust that his father will listen. This same confidence is present in the way we can speak to our Father in heaven. He is not going to condemn us for a simple request or an insufficient amount of eloquence in our conversation with Him. To call Him “Father” comes with this promise: Jehovah hears His children and loves the words that they speak to Him however they are delivered in true faith.
“To call Him ‘Father’ comes with this promise: Jehovah hears His children and loves the words that they speak to Him however they are delivered in true faith.”
The whispered request of a child in the ear of his father will always be a hard one to deny. The excited, garbled story that comes flying into a father’s ear as he steps through the door after a long day at work is one that he cannot wait to hear. When a child speaks, his father listens because there is nothing he loves more than hearing his child’s trusting voice, sharing these words. Our Father in heaven delights in our words in this same way. God comes down to us, just as a loving father stoops to his child’s level and listens with love to everything his child says.
A father is someone that a child desires to emulate. If dad gets out his big hammer, then a young boy could, quite possibly, be found searching the toy box for his handy set of plastic tools. When dad comes home with some flowers and a smile for his wife, the daughter will see the love that he shows and treasure it. Through a child’s eye, a father is strong enough to move mountains if necessary. Although no earthly father could possess such super-human strength, our Father in heaven does, indeed, have the power to move mountains and separate oceans to protect His children. With Him, we have no need to fear what men may do to us. He is strong and capable. One that we can place our full trust in.
“With Him, we have no need to fear what men may do to us. He is strong and capable. One that we can place our full trust in.”
There are times when trusting is difficult. Like a small child who doesn’t always see what’s best for him, we do not know why we must go through certain things in this life. It hurts to hear the word “no”. Yet sometimes this is the response that a child must receive for his own protection. Though our prayers might be answered differently than we would like, God is our Father and He will only do what is best for us. Trusting Him is not always easy, but it is always safe.
For some of God’s people, calling Him Father does not promise the comfort that the loving term ought to. They do not know what the tender love of the Father is, because they have not experienced the love of an earthly one. Maybe for them, the word ‘father’ instills fear rather than trust, danger rather than security, hurtful words rather than loving assurance, abandonment rather than a comforting presence. It is an awful thing when a child’s view of a father is bruised and broken by a man who doesn’t deserve the right to that name. In this world, parents will fail. To destroy the trust of a child is a terrible sin.
To those who cannot find the trust because of the damage that an earthy parent has inflicted, God gives them hope. “When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up” (Ps. 27:10). God gives us the type of a father, but He is THE ultimate Father who will never make mistakes, who will never hurt one of His children or allow another to do so. He will never leave us or forsake us, though an earthly parent might.
“… But ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father” (Rom. 8:15b). Through the adoption that is ours in Christ, we have the ability to address God as “Abba, Father.” The word Abba holds a beautiful meaning. It goes beyond the word father. It carries the idea of warm, intimate love and complete trust. This type of trust and assurance is what we have towards our Father in Heaven.
We have a God who loves us. One who protects us and cares for us. One who sees us as His own precious children. For the sake of Christ, we belong to Him, and He will never let us go. He hears and treasures our every word and gives us every reason to trust Him for our every need and in any fear. To have a God like that is what it means to call Him Father.