Throughout Lent I have been preaching on the Apostles’ Creed. As a theology nerd I love being able to dive into the fertile field of theology and doctrine found in the Creed. This confession of our Christian faith starts with Creation and ends with the communion of the saints in redeemed and resurrected bodies. In between the dual nature of Christ, atonement, the Holy Spirit, and virgin birth are all highlighted. I am now finding it hard to narrow in on the plethora of topics and I have been desiring to dive deep into some of the aspects that caught my attention during the week. So every Thursday I will be posting a blog that focuses on an area of the Apostles’ Creed that I either didn’t have enough time to fully discuss during the sermon or that I had to leave out. For those who are reading the blog but not able to hear my sermons in person I will also include a link to the podcast of that week’s sermon.
In a society where so many experience a bad father it is no wonder why calling God “Father” has fallen out of favor with many people. In the UMC we have options for removing Father from baptism and communion liturgies; additionally, some of our hymns have optional lyrics that remove the word “father”. I am sympathetic to those who because of abuse, neglect, or abandonment at the hands of their earthly father have trouble or do not want to associate God with the concept of father. While I did not have an abusive father there are still aspects of the relationship that I had with my father that made understanding God problematic for me. Yet, I believe that their is rich significance and even healing that is found when we can understand God as father.
God as Father is important because it begins to define and create a relationship. The idea of God being Father is not about define God, who is not a gender, a masculine diety. There are clear Scriptural references to God also demonstrating “mothering” aspects such as God stating that like a mother would not forget her child then God would not forget Israel, a hen gathering her chicks, and a comforting mother. Follow the link here for more examples. What is important about God as Father is the defining our relationship with God. If God is our Father then we are God’s children. Romans 8:12-17 celebrates that God has adopted us as children and not just children but we have also become co-heirs with Christ. Even more that this we are able to relate to God as not just Father but as “Abba”. Which is an Aramaic word best translated as “Daddy”.
I believe that there is a big difference between someone having a “father” and someone having a “daddy”. When I was dating I knew that when a girl had a “daddy” I better have her home not just before curfew but early. Daddies deeply love each of there children and their children know and can be secure in their daddy’s love for them. Daddies have established relationships with their children through the invest of time. They have nutured, encouraged, and provided for their children in ways that develop a sense of self-esteem and security in their children. These kids know that no matter what happens their daddies love them and they can trust in what they daddies say and do.
We have been adopted into God’s family and in this family we are not some kind of unwanted step-child that our Father is forced to love. Romans reminds us that in our adoption we are made children of God in every sense of the word. In fact, this spirit of adoption enables us to cry out to God “Abba” or “Daddy”. Our inheritance is secure and we with Christ are co-heirs.
Understanding our relationship with God changes everything. As beloved children, we are loved by God not for what we do or don’t do. We are loved because of who we are and nothing more. There is nothing that we can do to make our Father love us any more or any less. We don’t have to perform or try to please God because he is already pleased in us now. As children of God we are freed to simply be the children that God created. We are invited to be a part of the work happening in our Father’s kingdom and find how are unique gifts and talents become a part of the unfolding plan of God. We are free to work, create, and play in the security of beloved children and no longer live in fear of not being worthy or wanted.
There is a song that has become popular recently that is so simple and yet profund all at the same time. Titled “Good, Good Father” the lyrics are short with a repetative chorus:
You’re a good good Father
It’s who You are, it’s who You are, it’s who You are
And I’m loved by You
It’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am
I know that many are tired of simple and short worship songs with little theological progression or statement. However, I view this song as a centering prayer and I have been using it to speak an important truth to my spirit: that I am a beloved child of a good Father. I am trying to rest more in that simple truth everyday and I invite you to do the same. I encourage you to spend some time listening to this song and centering your heart on your acceptance and status as a loved child of a caring Abba God.