Summary: The implications of "Our Dad who is in heaven"
Lk 11:1-13: Our Father
Story: A young police officer was taking his final exam for the police academy and he read the following question in the exam paper:
You are on patrol in the outer city when an explosion occurs in a gas main in a nearby street.
On investigation you find that a large hole has been blown in the footpath and there is an overturned van nearby.
Inside the van there is a strong smell of alcohol. Both occupants—a man and a woman—are injured.
You recognize the woman as the wife of your Chief of Police, who is at present away in the USA.
A passing motorist stops to offer you assistance and you realize that he is a man who is wanted for armed robbery.
Suddenly a man runs out of a nearby house, shouting that his wife is expecting a baby and that the shock of the explosion has made the birth imminent.
Another man is crying for help, having been blown in the adjacent canal by the explosion, and he cannot swim.
Describe in a few words what actions you would take.
The young man thought for a moment, picked up his pen and wrote,
“I would take off my uniform and mingle with the crowd.”
Some of us see the Christian life in the same way.
We see the Christian life as trying to juggle five or six balls at one time whilst balancing a jug of water on our heads. And when the pressure gets too much we want to give up and mingle with the crowd
We spend our time are trying to pass what we perceive to be “God’s exam” to make us “holy”
There is a perception in the Church - and in our towns and villages that it is only when we reach some sort of “spiritual plateau”, the we will be able to “pray”
As I circulate in our parishes, people come up and chat and then might end the conversation by saying: “Say one for me, vicar”.
Is it really only the vicar’s prayers that are effective? Do we have to attain some sort of spirituality before we can pray?
I would like to suggest to you this morning that Jesus had a very different perspective on prayer - as evidenced by our Gospel this morning and in particular the Lord’s Prayer
1.1 The Culture of Jesus’ day
But before looking at the Prayer itself, I think it would be helpful to consider the concepts of God that pervaded the culture of the New Testament 2000 years ago.
There were three major cultures of the day.
The Jewish culture
The Greek culture and
The Roman culture.
In Jewish culture, God was a distant figure, someone simply to be obeyed.
He even had a name that could not be spoken.
And even today the Jews put a dash in place of the "o" in GOD.
His name is too holy to be spoken.
God spoke to the nation of Israel but rarely to individuals, unless you were someone special like the prophets or King David.
He was a bit like the Headmaster at school. You only got to see him if you broke the rules!!
In Greek Culture, the "gods" moved in a parallel world, almost capriciously playing with human beings.
The Greek “gods” considered man inferior and used them like figures in a chess game.
In the Roman Culture the "gods" were considered distant and constantly needed to be appeased.
1.2 Jesus’ revolutionary ideas
Jesus came along and revolutionised the civilised world with his teaching.
And one of the revolutionary things he taught was that the Almighty God - El Shaddai of the Old Terstament- the ALL POWEREFUL ONE - LOVES us and cares for us.
1.3. OUR FATHER
When Jesus was asked how we should pray, he gave us a model prayer – the Lord’s prayer. And this start with the words “Our Father”
I would like to focus our thoughts this morning simply on these two words and suggest some implications in our lives.
The term "Father" indicates a personal and intimate relationship between Him and me.
God is OUR FATHER.
What do we mean by fatherhood
The famous New Testament scholar Donald Guthrie in puts it well when he says:
As far as believers are concerned,(fatherhood) means that God is the source of their spiritual life and pours out his love upon them. He is concerned with their welfare (Rom 8:28) and also with their discipline (Heb 12:5 ff) (New Testament Theology D Guthre p83)
The original Aramaic word that has been translated in the Lord’s Prayer as “Our Father” is the word ABBA.
At the risk of becoming too technical, I’d like to quote Guthrie again:
(Abba) was originally used by young children but it had acquired an extended meaning in familiar use roughly equivalent to "dear father".