Our Father

Luke tells us that one of the requests the disciples made of Jesus was that he would teach them to pray. In his response, Jesus taught them to address God as “Father.” This would probably have seemed strange to the disciples, as it was an unusual way for a Jewish person to address God. In Jewish thought, a name was not just something to call a person by. Rather, it represented the very nature and essence of the thing or person being named.

A person’s name also represented their reputation or integrity, in a similar way that, for us, it is important to have a “good name.” Because God is holy, his name is also considered holy, and it became customary not to trivialize God’s name, even by pronouncing it. Consequently, the Jews of the first century would most often have referred to God as “The Name” and addressed him in prayer as “Adonai,” which means “Lord” or “my Master.”

By instructing us to address God as “Father,” Jesus invites us to see God differently. He encourages us to trust in the intimacy of the relationship God created us to share with him. As the holy creator God, he is to be respected and his authority honored. The second phrase of the Lord’s Prayer reminds us that God’s name is to be revered as holy. It is a grave mistake to assume that we can approach God casually, or treat him with disrespect.

At the same time, Jesus calls us to remind ourselves in our prayers that God is also our Father, and that we can trust him implicitly and rest in his tender loving care for us. As Psalm 103 says, God is a “merciful and gracious [father], slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love…Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him” (Ps. 103:8,13).

Though my biological father died when I was only four, I was blessed to have wonderful examples of fatherhood who helped me understand the gracious fatherhood of God. My grandfather, Lyman Heath, and my stepfather, Bill Reid, mentored me through instruction, discipline and love, which was consistently directed toward my good. From their investment in my life, I came to see God as a loving father who cares deeply about me. Hebrews reminds us, “We have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of Spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but [God] disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness” (Heb. 12:9-10).

Becoming a father myself has helped me to understand the father love of God from a different perspective. I love my son with a love that nothing—not even he—can extinguish. There is nothing he needs to do to get me to love him more, and there is nothing he can do to cause me to love him less. I love him because he is mine. He will always be my beloved son, and nothing can change that. Through my own love for my son, I have learned the rich truth in the words of Jeremiah, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lam. 3:22-23).

Whether or not we had earthly fathers who reflected the father heart of God toward us, we all find it difficult sometimes to rest in his steadfast love and mercy. Guilt, shame, fear, and disappointment are just a few of the things that keep us from resting in God’s compassionate care for us, but his arms are open wide to hold us in his steadfast love. May we have the confidence with the Apostle John to say, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! (1 Jn. 3:1).

Pastor Jon Enright

November 1, 2019

Troy Christian Chapel
400 E. Long Lake Road
Troy, MI 48085
Map

Phone: (248) 689-2046

Email: staff@troychapel.org

Sundays
Sunday School - 9:00 a.m.
Worship Service - 10:30 a.m.

Wednesdays
Worship & Bible Study - 7:00 p.m.
Children - 7:00 p,m,