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When God Looks Like Your Earthly Father
Of all the names for God, “Father” is the most important. Yes, the Lord is King, and when you sense that life is out of control you are certainly comforted to know that he has kingly authority and control, but Father is better. When Jesus revealed the Kingdom of Heaven to us he taught a radical new way to pray—“Our Father . . .”
But while some people hear father and think intimacy, affection, mercy, compassion, home and rest, others cringe. For them father means anger, rage, lies, violence and rejection. Their earthly fathers have poisoned the name. As a result, they distance themselves from the Father and opt for the gentler members of the Trinity.
Notice that though the name Father is implied throughout the Old Testament, it is explicit and prominent in the New Testament. The contrast between the two suggests that the New Testament writers, following Jesus’ example, were moving into territory that would have been considered a bit audacious at the time. They had gone from Yahweh, which was a name that the Israelites thought should not even be spoken, to Father, which is personal, intimate, and spoken in every prayer. Your goal is to share in their excitement, even if the process takes time.
So begin by gathering some favorite passages.
And [Jesus] said, “There was a man who had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ . . .” (Luke 15:11-12)
This story about the prodigal son must be on your list because the father’s patience, kindness and enduring love, all on display to a rascal, are enough to dispel any confusion about the character of your heavenly Father. This is how you let the New Testament writers endow the name Father with new meaning.
The other is to confess them. When in doubt, repent. This is good advice, especially when you feel stuck. Confess that you are viewing God in an ungodly way. This, after all, is idolatry.
You are being controlled by a creature more than the Creator.
This could be perceived as heaping on guilt when you already feel condemned and shamed, but the intent is exactly the opposite. The intent is to remind you of how powerful confession is. It’s saying to God: “Yikes, what am I doing? I am allowing lies to infect my knowledge of my true Father. Father, forgive me. Please open my eyes to who you are, and please keep them open.” Such prayers can bring relief from Satan’s devices and disrupt the status quo like nothing else.
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