I called him “God.”
I went to church. I believed in him.
I remember getting into a few highly “enlightened” discussions about his nature when I was in college after several pitchers of beer. Oh, I believed he made everything. And I believed he had the power to send me to hell. But I never would have called him by the name Jesus told us to use.
Christianity involves gigantic, eternity-shaping truth – but this truth is meant to bring us into a relationship with God the Father through Jesus Christ. A family relationship. For some mysterious reason, rooted deep in God’s eternal love, he adopts believers in Jesus as his children. It’s astounding that God would forgive our multitudes of offenses toward him. That alone would be enough to rejoice in for all eternity. But he makes us part of his family!
God, the infinite one. The galaxy maker. The one with no limits, no bounds. The whole universe is but a speck to him. Less than a speck. That’s why David was astounded that God would give humans dominion over the earth.
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Psalms 8:3-4
What are human beings that God would think of them or care for them? As mind-boggling as it is that the infinite one gives specks of dust dominion over the earth, it’s even more mind boggling that he adopts us as his very own children.
Not only is God infinite, but he is the blazing holy, sinless God – so holy angels can’t even gaze on him. Yet he looked on us foul, sin-riddled scorpions and said I want you as my sons and daughters. And said, “Call me Father.”
Unbelievers don’t call God Father. Before he saved me, I would occasionally pray, but I’d never call God “Father,” except when I would rotely pray the Lord’s prayer. But it had no meaning for me. I called him “God” — “God, would you please get me out of this jam. God, would you please give me this.” I didn’t think of him as my Father. I thought of him as the one who was running the universe. I mostly thought of him as one who was going to judge me.
Unbelievers don’t call God Father because it takes the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of the Son to enable us to do this:
And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” Galatians 4:6
Puritan John Bunyan comments:
Naturally the name of God is awe-inspiring to us, especially when He is first introduced to us by those names that express His justice, holiness, power, and glory – but the word Father is a familiar word; instead of frightening the sinner, it persuades the heart to love, to be pleased with the thought of Him. That is why Christ also, when He wanted us to pray with holy assurance, put this word Father into our mouths… knowing… the children of God will find the confidence to pray for and ask great things. I myself have often found that when I can say only this word, Father, it does me more good than when I call Him by any other Scripture name.
Abba is an affectionate term for Father. Very few people in the Old Testament called God Father. But it was the most common name Jesus used for God. And it is the name he taught us to address God by.
And what did it cost God to become our Father? His only-begotten Son. The infinite delight of his infinite heart. Betrayed, beaten, scourged, mocked, spit on, nailed, stripped, and forsaken. How much our Father loves us!
Because God has become our Father, he longs to give us good things. Even earthly fathers love to give their kids gifts. I’d give my children anything I could. As our Father, he cares for us – he’s moved by our suffering. And our Father protects us. Somebody attacks us, it’s personal. It’s family. And as a Father, he loves to guide and counsel us. Kids don’t always listen, but what earthly dad doesn’t want to give his children wise direction for life and spare them making many mistakes?
This week, let’s meditate often on this wonderful name, Father. Let’s talk to our Father often this week. Are we who believe in Jesus the most privileged people on the face of the earth, or what?
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Mark Altrogge has been senior pastor of Sovereign Grace Church of Indiana, Pennsylvania, since 1982. He has written hundreds of songs for worship, including “I Stand in Awe” and “I’m Forever Grateful.” Mark and his wife, Kristi, have four sons and one daughter.
Find out more on his blog, The Blazing Center.