Summary: The intimate relationship of personal love that Jesus makes possible for us with the Father-"Abba"-was and is revolutionary and unique among religions. Jesus is the only way to "Abba", Father.
GOD OUR FATHER
A Sermon for Father’s Day 2003
The challenge for fathers has never been greater; but we have the greatest role model – God our Father.
A. Father – a Term of Personal Love
[Read Romans 8:14-17]
1. The term “Father” does not mean primarily “male.” It says God relates to us personally in love. Genesis 1:27 says “man” (“adam” = male and female together) is made in the image of God which includes both male and female. God includes within Himself, in His image, both male and female.
It was historically appropriate for God to reveal Himself to humanity in His authority and power as “Father.” But the primary emphasis of the term, especially to Jesus, is of personal love. God is “Abba”, Dad.
2. God Is Love [Read 1 John 4:8-10]
3. God Is Personal (“Abba” = “Dad”). God is not remote, far removed from us; unavailable and uncaring. This was and is a radical view of God.
Illust.: Christian Fathers need to reflect God our Father’s love and character. “When Gen. Norman Schwartzkopf was interviewed by Barbara Walters, she asked him for his definition of leadership. He reflected for a moment and said, “It’s competence. More important, it’s character. It’s taking action. It’s doing the right [ethical] thing.”
Later Barbara asked him what he wanted on his tombstone. For a moment he grew very quiet. Then, with just a hint of a tear in his eye, he said, “I want it to say, ‘He loved his family and loved his troops – and they loved him.’” 1
If God is personal, then we must face the implications of that fact:
* He is no teddy bear; we can’t project our dreams upon God. We can’t control Him; we do not earn His friendship any more than we earn the friendship of another human being.
* On the other hand, He wants fellowship with us. He won’t compel our loyalty; He wants our trust and love, freely given.
B. God the Father Seeks His Children
1. God Desires to Relate to Us Personally Forever. [Read John 14:1-9]
If God is personal, then the deepest meaning of our lives lies in His personal purpose for us. The most significant question for us is, “what does He want of us?”
2. This Is Unlike Any Other Religion (John 14:6, 9)
After 9/11 Americans have begun to wake up to the fact that different religions have different world views, leading to different actions. It is an axiom of logic that nothing can be true if its exact opposite is also true. Truth is singular and therefore intolerant. This is not to say that we must be intolerant, but that some things in the world are not settled by majority vote.
There is an old story of a school teacher who brought a baby rabbit to show the students at school.
They asked, “Is it a boy rabbit or a girl rabbit?”
The teacher was hesitant to reply, not being quite sure herself, when suddenly a hand shot up in the back of the classroom, “We could vote on it!”
Well, some things are either one thing or another; they cannot be both, and the truth is not always settled by a show of hands. 2
a. Religions may look the same on the surface of their ethical teaching, but basically they are different.
Hinduism – the divine is plural and impersonal
Islam – God is singular and personal
Christianity – God is Triune, personal, and Creator
Buddhism – the divine is neither personal nor creative
Christianity – teaches God both forgives and helps us
Buddhism – there is no possibility of forgiveness and no hope of supernatural aid
The goal of all existence in Buddhism is nirvana (attained by the Buddha after no less than 547 reincarnations).
The goal of Christianity is to know God and enjoy Him forever.
Islam allows a man four wives;
Christianity strongly suggests one is more than enough.
The greatest difference lies between the Bible which says we can never save ourselves - that salvation is the gift of God through faith in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:8-9); and all the other religions which say a person will be saved, reborn, made whole, or achieve fulfillment by keeping teachings or living according to laws.
Compare a Buddhist story with the similar Parable of the Prodigal Son. In both, a boy comes home and is met by his father. But where the Prodigal Son is met with quite undeserved forgiveness and welcome, the Buddhist son has to work off the penalty for his past misdeeds by years of servitude. 3
The contrasts between religions are irreconcilable; they are not superficial. They lead to radically different goals: extinction or the personal presence of God; pardon or paying it off; salvation by grace or by works.