“Our Father…” (Matthew 6:9). These two workaday words, spoken by Jesus Christ in the opening of his most famous prayer, pack the most profound truth in all creation. If Jesus would have addressed God merely as Father, or even, as my Father, the profundity and scandal would have been complete. But his use of the first person plural pronoun our brought this outrageous truth home to his hearers, and to all those he came to save. Jesus Christ acknowledged God, the great, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent Creator of the universe, as the personal Father of men.
What does this mean, this Fatherhood of God? Earthly fathers were created to emulate God, but because of our fallen world, it doesn’t always (or ever) work out that way. Glenn Stanton, in an article published on The Gospel Coalition website writes,
How many of us had a dad like the one who welcomed back the prodigal son mentioned in Luke 15:11? His heart is deeply compassionate, non-judging, and forgiving toward his son. He loves freely, openly, and boldly, without condition or expectation. Jesus tells us this is what his Father—-and ours—-is like. As such, it is reality's very character. We yearn so passionately for the true acceptance of our fathers and are crushed by their shame and judgment for the deepest of reasons. https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/fatherhood-the-core-of-the-universe/
Even the best fathers on earth will fall short. But Psalm 68:5 calls God a “father to the fatherless.” No matter what our earthly fathers were like, the Fatherhood of God, the way Christ knew it, is trustworthy to the core.
A Father’s Comfort
On Christmas morning, a friend posted a video of her daughter singing a solo in their Christmas Eve service. In the video, the little girl stands stoic at the mic, waiting for the music to begin, precious Christmas dress glittering in the low light of the auditorium. She is scared. As the music begins, her face suddenly contorts in anguish as she throws up her hands in desperation and mouths to someone off camera, “I don’t know what to sing!” Suddenly, her father appears on the stage, kneels down beside her and, while gently rubbing her back, points to the music and begins singing softly beside her. His little daughter, buoyed by her father’s presence, grips the mic with both hands and also begins singing, low and unsteady at first, but soon clear and lovely. From beginning to end, her father never leaves her side, nor stops singing softly beside her.
What a sweet and poignant metaphor for the Fatherhood of God. Notice the little girl’s father did not rescue his daughter from her task. Rather, he comforted her through it. Likewise, our Father does not always remove us from life’s painful or frightening trials. The imagery of a father gently kneeling beside his child, singing softly beside her, is a sufficiently accurate depiction of how our Heavenly Father comforts and sustains us through the trouble promised us as residents in this world (John 16:33).
The Absolute Reality of an Ultimate Love
Let this suffuse your soul, because this is the kind of love that is promised you. It is absolute reality. As your Father, this love-motivated, grace-saturated, genius of a God “quiets you by his love” (Zephaniah 3:17). He “upholds you with (his) righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10). He heals your broken heart and “binds up (your) wounds” (Psalm 147:3). He holds your hand and offers assurance as he helps you (Isaiah 41:113). He sings over you and protects you (Zephaniah 3:17), and he will never “leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).
Moreover, in the ultimate act of love, God sacrificed his perfect Son for you (John 3:16), in order to glorify himself through the love of his precious children. Because when we become children of God, we will someday join with all creation in crying, ”To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” (Revelation 5:13)
God is Your Father
JI Packer, in his marvelous classic, Knowing God, reflects,
What is a Christian? The question can be answered in many ways, but the richest answer I know is that a Christian is one who has God as Father… If you want to judge how well a person understands Christianity, find out how much he makes of the thought of being God’s child, and having God as his Father. If this is not the thought that prompts and controls his worship and prayers and his whole outlook on life, it means that he does not understand Christianity very well at all.
Christian, if you haven’t already apprehended the stunning reality that God is your Father, do it now, with all the joy inducing, peace effecting implications that accompany the truth of it. Take heart knowing that “because (we) are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’” (Galatians 4:6-7). Grasp the reality of 1 John 3:1, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” Then step up to the mic and sing as the unfettered, cherished, and upheld child of the living King of the Universe that you are.