“I believe in God the Father” says the Apostles’ Creed. What a rich, beautiful truth is found in this idea Christians gave the world – that God is our Heavenly Father. When I think of how many people carry scars from childhood, particularly because their relationship with their father was damaged (the entire show Lost was built on the concept of ‘father-wounds’) it’s astonishing to me that the Christian faith provides us with a good and loving Father that can heal those wounds. I can’t find this in any other religion.
To call God “Father” means many things of course. It speaks to his authority – that as our father he has the ability to lead our lives. It speaks to us of his strength – and our God has the strongest of arms that we can run into. It also speaks to us of God’s power to provide for our needs.
In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells his followers not to worry. (Someone once said: Today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday. And where did it get you – all that worrying? Probably not very far.) Jesus then tells us why we shouldn’t worry. “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” (Matthew 7:25-27).
What a rich, beautiful truth is found in this idea Christians gave the world – that God is our Heavenly Father.
But let’s be careful here. Don’t think to yourself that this means we just get to kick back and do nothing, and God will take care of us. He’ll do all the work. He’ll pay all our bills. He’ll fix all our problems and make life easy for us. That’s not what Jesus is teaching. Because that’s not what a loving father does for his children.
And so in the Bible we find God the Father meeting our needs in interesting ways. God as our Father meets our needs by giving us instruction. Proverbs 4:3 – “When I was a boy in my father’s house, still tender…he taught me and said ‘Lay hold of my words with all your heart; keep my commands and you will live.” When you come to church, you are in your father’s house, and God wants to give you there teaching that will save your life. Will you listen to your Heavenly Father’s teaching?
A loving father also meets the needs of his children by giving us discipline. Hebrews 12:7 – “Endure hardship as discipline. God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?” A child needs discipline, boundaries and correction. This, not that. Life is hard, and the world unforgiving. If we do not learn self-discipline from our fathers and our mothers, and from our Heavenly Father, then the world out there will crush us. God doesn’t want that for you. God wants you to flourish out there. So he teaches you. And disciplines you. Just as a good father would.