Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News
June 21, 2015
The Joy of Knowing God as your Daddy
One Father’s Day I wrote a piece about the difference it makes to know God as your Daddy. I believe this is a pivotal conclusion in the Christian understanding of God. Today I want to share again why I believe this to be true.
Born in Alabama I grew up in the country. My life was quite sheltered, exposed to no one outside of Elmore County except for one or two rare family vacations in Panama City, Florida. There being no television all I knew about “the world” was what I read in books or learned in school.
College and seminary days enlarged my world considerably. There I met people from other cultures and ethnic backgrounds. My first trip on an airplane took me to New York City and the jolting differences between that world and my own in Wetumpka, Alabama.
When I was 35 I was given the privilege of traveling around the world, for seven weeks, and meeting Christians in 25 other countries. In these nations I was constantly embraced by people of a different racial origin. None of our cultural differences was a stumbling block to fellowship; they saw me as a brother in Christ.
I experienced firsthand the exhilarating truth that followers of Christ in every culture have one glorious thing in common: we are all children of God through faith in Jesus Christ, thus brothers and sisters in God’s Family. This opened my eyes. Cultural differences tend to divide us but our love for Christ unites us. The shining truth that pulls us together, helping us to leap over our differences, is that we all belong to Christ. Differences become irrelevant when we realize that our salvation is a gift from the God who loves us all like a Father.
My four siblings and I called our father “Daddy.” Daddy is the intimate form of the word “father.” Daddy was a good man who was faithfully married to my mama for almost 68 years. We were a family. We loved Daddy and knew that he loved us. When he disciplined us, sometimes severely, we never doubted his love for us.
One day as a grown man my heart leaped with joy to discover that while Jesus called God “Our Father,” he also called him “Daddy.” That is what the Aramaic word “Abba” means. My joy was increased by the remarkable concept that through faith in Christ all believers become “children” of God. As children then we can speak to God affectionately by using the word “Daddy.”
When it soaks into our brain, and our heart, that the eternal God, the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, loves us like an earthly Daddy loves his children, we can move beyond “formal” praying. Children have no need to address their Daddy as “the Great Architect of the Universe,” though he is that and much more. Such formal prayer can rob us of precious intimacy with God.
There are two great concepts about God in the Bible embodied in the words “law” and “grace.” The biblical “law” had its purpose. It was part of God’s plan. The law teaches us that we cannot be made right with God (saved) by obeying the law. The Bible tells us that the law “guarded” us until Christ came as grace made flesh. Suddenly, in the fullness of time, God sent his Son to show us a new way to become right with God – repent of sin and have faith in Christ.
Some Bible translations are easier to understand than others. I find the New Living Translation is often quite helpful. These verses from Paul’s Letter to the Galatians illuminate the idea that believers are children of God:
The law was our guardian and teacher to lead us until Christ came. So now, through faith in Christ, we are made right with God. But now that faith in Christ has come, we no longer need the law as our guardian. So you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have been made like him. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female. For you are all Christians – you are one in Christ Jesus. And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and now all the promises God gave to him belong to you. (3:24-29)
That is a beautiful explanation of salvation. Paul is saying to the “foolish Galatians,” God has released you from bondage to the law. Stop focusing on your differences and realize that God has made you his dear children and you are now one in Christ Jesus!
In this same letter Paul explains why Gentiles can call God their Father:
But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children. And because you Gentiles have become his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, and now you can call God your dear Father. Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, everything he has belongs to you. (4:4-7)
What a great truth to embrace on Father’s Day! Through Christ we are God’s children. We belong to Christ and we belong to one another. Forget the beer and the cookout on the beach; it really does not get any better than this!
As believers we can rejoice in the kindness of God, our Daddy, and allow him to love us while we crawl up into his lap and enjoy his comforting touch upon the hurt places of our hearts! Such tender love we need in order to serve Christ well on the battlefield of life!
Life is not a cake walk. Evil clouds our world with demonic tragedy. There is unspeakable suffering and pain that our finite minds cannot yet comprehend. But God is not dead. He is alive. He loves us like a daddy loves his children. And when the bottom falls out, the best place for us to run is into the loving arms of the God we can call Daddy! + + +