“Father God I wonder how I managed to exist without the knowledge of your parenthood and your loving care.”
Not exactly catchy lyrics by today’s standards, even in the world of Christian music, but nevertheless for this “Crusader” (20th Century Christian youth ministry, now Urban Saints) back in the 1980’s, these lyrics got stuck in my head and on my heart… as did the next lines:
“Now I am your son, I am adopted in your family and I can never be alone ‘cause Father God you’re there beside me”.
As I reminded us in last week’s post, at Jesus’ baptism, Father God speaks audibly (just imagine that!!! What a moment in History—I would love to know what His voice sounded like!). Anyway, the Father speaks and introduces and affirms Jesus as his son, and from there Jesus’ public ministry begins and Jesus reveals and models and teaches and that the God of all those names of the Old Testament is in fact His Father and OUR Father too!
As a child, singing the song on a Friday night at Crusaders, it was easy to see myself as his child. I was literally a child, I had a mum and a dad and an older brother and a pet bunny in a hutch. But these days, I’m not a child… I’m a grown up! A grown up with responsibilities; I am a husband, I have a job, I’m a Father, we have a home and a mortgage and bills… We have a dog and our daughter has bunnies! I find it all too easy to get caught up in grown up stuff.
A couple of weeks ago I was engaged in a difficult task… you know more grown up stuff… when the phone rang… It was Pat… she didn’t know what I was working on, but she felt prompted to call. Father God knew what I was working on and knew I needed to know that whilst I maybe a grown up… navigating grown up stuff… I’m still a son. A son who on that day needed mothering! Thanks Pat.
Jesus grew up reading the Old Testament, Jesus knew Isaiah was prophesying about him when he said “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6 ESV). At Jesus’ baptism, Father God doesn’t highlight these other names—He highlights ‘Son’. Obviously this is for our benefit but I’m sure it was for Jesus’ encouragement too. How much more, then, do we need to be reminded of our sonship? As grown ups, we get to be all sorts of things to the people in our lives; let’s keep being a son or a daughter of our loving Heavenly Father at the top of the list.
I say ‘loving’ because Jesus intentionally wanted his followers to re-frame their understanding of ‘God, not to diminish His glory, but to reveal intimacy and affection. Both Jesus and Paul lead us to God as “abba ho patēr” – Abba Father (Mark 14:36, Romans 8:15, and Galatians 4:6). Abba in Aramaic is used as the term of tender endearment by a beloved child (i.e. in an affectionate, dependent relationship with their father; “daddy,” “papa.”). That revelation opens up a whole new level of relational intimacy with God for believers that few experienced prior to the cross. We don’t need to get hung up on what we call Father God. For some ‘Daddy’ feels way too casual; ‘Father’ feels too formal and ‘Papa’ feels… too American! (Personally I love them all!)
All I do know is that as HIS children first and HIS grown ups second the old song from my Crusader days still stands.