Almighty Father

It is hard to believe that it’s been almost a decade since Disney remade The Parent Trap with Lindsay Lohan and Dennis Quaid. As the ‘twin’ raised by her mom travels home from the airport with her Father she can’t help but use “Dad” repeatedly. Finally, Dennis asks The father asks, "Let me see if I get this. You missed being able to call me ’Dad’?" To which Annie answers, "Yeah, I really have, Dad (Myers)."

 Bad Dads

There are some who have had harsh, nasty, abusive and absent fathers in their lives. Others have married into a family that has kept such secrets, sometimes for generations. Withhold your dismissal of this sermon on the Fatherhood of God until you hear why it so key for all of us. Listen to this statement by Karl Barth about human and God the Father

“We denote the natural author of our existence. But our natural father is not our Creator. He is not the lord of our existence, not even the lord of our life, let alone our death. When Scripture calls God our Father it adopts an analogy only to transcend it at once (Barth, Bromiley, and Torrance).”

When Jesus calls God, Father, he immediately moves God far above our perception of human fatherhood. We don’t have the aloof father of Mary Poppins the hidden abusive father of Bing Crosby. And He is not the God depicted by George Burns or Morgan Freeman who hands out power and dispenses pithy wisdom. The God of the Bible is our daddy. He’s Abba. Oscar Wilde tells the story of Oscar Browning who was a bit of a bore.

Craving acquaintance with the great, he introduced himself to the renowned poet, Alfred, Lord Tennyson. Tennyson seemed not to have the slightest idea who he was, so he announced: “I’m Browning”. Tennyson assumed that he was impersonating the poet Robert Browning and grumpily replied: “No, you’re not” (Titley)."

God is NOT everyone’s father. And all people are NOT his children. He is Father to those who trust in Jesus, His Son, John 1:12 says, "But as many as received him, to them gave he the right to become children of God, even to them that believe on his name" ASV. Matthew 7 has some sobering words when Jesus declares,

“21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

This is because God isn’t just our Father but also the Holy and Almighty One.

Holy Father

There is an ever-present tension between the intimacy of our Heavenly Father and the transcendent God who is totally ‘other’. It is not easy, in fact, I think most of us fail to maintain this tension and that is okay because we’re talking about someone who we can barely comprehend, let alone explain with your words. Natalie Grant sings of this familiarity in King of the World when she says,

I tried to fit you in the walls inside my mind                                                                             I try to keep you safely in between the lines                                                                           I try to put you in the box that I've designed                                                                          I try to pull you down so we are eye to eye                                                 When did I forget that you’ve always been the King of the World (Grant)?

We may fall into the same trap yet, Jesus has told us that the King of the World is also Father and daddy. There are those who see a God who cannot touch us, or relate because He is so far above us and removed from our lives.

Whereas the intimate God calls us His children and promises to seek, defend, and love us. The same transcendent, Holy God, Lord Almighty, assures us that God and God alone oversees all of creation and that His will wins out in the end.

This prayer is a counterpoint to what was going on in their society. It is the long answer to the gentile’s many words and the Pharisaic posturing. God in His holiness is not goaded into action like the gentiles attempt to do. Nor is God impressed with religious rules about when and how to pray. We don’t awe God with our vocabulary and intonation. We can’t bore God into answering us. And all the whining in the world won’t make God ignore His perfect will for us.

Putting it together

Have you ever considered how our conversation with God is a barometer for the relationship we have with God? Craig Groeschel says how we address God is a “litmus test…that might shed a little light on our relationship with God (Groeschel).” Some people know him well enough to call him Pastor Craig and others, his closer friends, call him Craig.

“Then there are those who possess exclusive rights to a few specialized, far more intimate forms of address. These are the six beautiful, small people, very dear to me, whom I allow to climb up in my lap. They rub their hands on my face and say things like "You need to shave" and "You're the best" and "Can I have some candy?" They call me "Daddy." The name reveals the intimacy (Groeschel).”

If our prayer is mindless chatter without any attention or thought it may well reflect the level of importance we put into our relationship with God. If our prayers are hurried affairs, without depth, we likely relate to God the same way, with very little depth or commitment. If our prayers are a laundry list of what we want God to do it says a lot about how we perceive God’s role in our existence. Do you see the problem?

To come before the Father Almighty as many hymns refer to God is to come with this dual recognition of Daddy and Lord of Creation. It does not lessen either nor does it promote one above the other. As Jesus teaches his disciples, and us, to pray he starts here, with the balancing act, which allows us to converse with the King of heaven and talk to our daddy.

No human father has never, and will never, measure up to the fatherhood of God. Our human fathers have failed us and will continue to do so because they are human. And we who are fathers know this better than anyone.

Our heavenly Father will never fail us, forget us, or forsake us. If you’ve been victimized by someone called father, start redirecting your eyes upward. Start hearing the word ‘Father’ in a new way, one which gives peace and not fear, one who protects and doesn’t threaten. For our daddy is the King of Heaven. Let us pray.

Works Cited

Barth, Karl, G. W Bromiley, and Thomas F Torrance. Church Dogmatics Index Vol. 5. London: T. & T. Clark International, 2004. Print.

Grant, Natalie. King of The World. Cloud records, 2016. Audio Recording.

Groeschel, Craig. The Christian Atheist. Zondervan, 2010. Print.

Miller, J.R. "Karl Barth's View of God the Father | More Than Cake." Morethancake.org. n.p., 2013. Web. 12 Sept. 2017.

Myers, Nancy. The Parent Trap. Hollywood: Disney, 1998. film.

Titley, Neil. "The Oscar Wilde World of Gossip." Wilde Theatre. n.p., 2009. Web. 12 Sept. 2017.

 

Bibliography

Barth, Karl, G. W Bromiley, and Thomas F Torrance. Church Dogmatics Index Vol. 5. London: T. & T. Clark International, 2004. Print.

Grant, Natalie. King of The World. Cloud records, 2016. Audio Recording.

Groeschel, Craig. The Christian Atheist. Zondervan, 2010. Print.

"Ten Letters For The President - 99% Invisible." 99% Invisible. n.p., 2016. Web. 12 Sept. 2017.

Lewis, C. S. Surprised by Joy. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1995. Print.

Miller, J.R. "Karl Barth's View of God the Father | More Than Cake." Morethancake.org. n.p., 2013. Web. 12 Sept. 2017.

Myers, Nancy. The Parent Trap. Hollywood: Disney, 1998. film.

Titley, Neil. "The Oscar Wilde World of Gossip." Wilde Theatre. n.p., 2009. Web. 12 Sept. 2017.