“I Believe In God The Father – Part 1”
For Christians, thinking of God as our “Father” is woven deeply into our DNA. Jesus taught us in the Lord’s Prayer to say, “Our Father who art in heaven”. When we recite the Apostles Creed we begin saying, “I believe in God the Father Almighty”. But what does it really mean – that God invites us to call him “Father”?
One thing is does not mean is that God is to be thought of as male in the sense of gender. God transcends sexuality. In creating us “in the image of God…male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27), God encompasses all of humanity in his nature, so there’s no need to attempt to snatch a peak under his tunic.
Yet God in his revelation of Scripture and through Christ does not grant us permission to address him as “Our Mother who art in heaven”. Once we go there, then we would be introducing gender into the idea of God (and shortly after that be reverting back to pagan notions of sexualized deities.)
To call God “Father” is critical for other reasons entirely. Here’s an important one.
First, to call God ‘Father’ is to say that God has authority to lead.
There was a time, and not too long ago, when if you knocked on the front door of a house and asked for the head of household, a man came to the door. There was a time not too long ago when fathers were looked upon as leaders. They were to lead the way in providing for their family, and protecting their family, and teaching their family. It used to be that in dating relationships, men were supposed to lead the way in asking the woman out.
(And all the ladies reading this just laughed derisively. The other day I googled the words “Why Women Need To Stop Waiting On Men”, and my laptop grew white-hot in my hands, so many articles appeared.)
Where do we see in the Bible that God the Father has authority to lead? In the Trinity. In the relationships between God the Father, God the Son and God the Spirit. Jesus said in John 5:19 – “The Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing.” When Jesus breathed his last, he cried out, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46). To the very end, Jesus recognized the authority of the Father to lead his life.
And yet – notice this – the Father in leading shares all of his glory and honor with the Son. Philippians 2:9-11 say, “Therefore God [the Father] exalted him [God the Son] to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow…and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.”
Do you see this? The Father leads, and Jesus becomes greater. The world says when you lead, you should become greater. But God says, when you lead, others around you should become greater.
In Olympic pairs skating, the man is stronger than the woman. (Can you picture the woman lifting up the man and twirling him over her head?) The man leads, the man lifts, the man directs – but the man is scarcely noticed because of the grace and beauty of the woman he leads. That’s what God the Father does with Jesus.
When a man leads as God the Father leads, the women in his life become more beautiful, more confident, more radiant, stronger, holier and happier, over time. But if you find a marriage where the man uses his power to crush the woman, or abuse the woman, or silence the woman (what would you think of a male skater who hurled the woman into the wall or who hoisted her up and then did a piledriver with her onto the ice?), that man is imitating the devil. The devil steals, kills and destroys. Jesus brings life.
Far too many people today hear the word “father” and at once call to mind a man whom they see maybe a couple of times of year, or a man who drifts from job to job, or one who drinks to oblivion, who can’t speak a sentence without swearing and cursing, and who roughs up their mother. And they’re supposed to call God that?
But the Bible’s solution for that sort of pain is not to run from the word that’s been contaminated. But get the contamination out of the word.
The people in Flint, Michigan can’t say to themselves, “I’m never drinking water again.” No, they need water. Desperately need water. But they have to get the contaminants out of their water.
And homes need fathers. Sons and daughters need fathers. Wives need husbands. Society needs men who know how to use their strength and authority to lead as God the Father leads. Who know how to use their strong muscles to protect. Who know how to use their strong voices to bless, not curse. Who know how to use their strong hearts to fulfill their responsibilities, and not run from them. Who know how to take the strong sexual energy inside of them and put down the porn and learn how to truly court and love a woman.
We’ve got to get the contaminants out of the idea of “manhood” and “fatherhood”. We need to rediscover what these words ought to mean.
This begins by looking straight and full at God the Father.
Bear Clifton is a pastor, writer and screenwriter. He’s just released his latest book, “Living Under The Cross: A 40-Day Devotional Journey”. His blogs and devotionals can be enjoyed at his ministry website: trainyourselfministry.com and his writing website: blclifton.com. Bear is also the author of “Train Yourself To Be Godly: A 40 Day Journey Toward Sexual Wholeness”, “Ben-Hur: The Odyssey”, and “A Sparrow Could Fall”, all available through Amazon.