Summary: What is our heavenly father like
WHAT KIND OF FATHER IS GOD?
We’ve been looking at how God meets your deepest needs and we’ve noticed that God uses a descriptive name for Himself that matches every one of your ten deepest needs. Your understanding of God will affect every area of your life. If you have misconceptions about God, what He’s really like – you’re going to tend to worry about things you shouldn’t be worrying about. You’re going to tend to feel guilty over things God has no intention of you feeling guilty about. You’re going to carry unnecessary burdens and fears and doubts and depressions all through life that God never intended for you to have. Your understanding of God determines your happiness in life. When you get a false conception about God from the movies, from religion, from your parents, from the schoolyard or anybody, if you get a misconception of what God is really like, you will have unnecessary problems and misery in your life that you weren’t intended to have.
One of the things Jesus Christ came to earth to do is show us what God is really like. Jesus exploded all the stereotypes about God. He showed us that God is not some impersonal force, just an energy field in the universe. God is not some angry tyrant who sets up in heaven waiting to make things miserable for people. God is not some apathetic creator who winds up the world and sets it down and then sits back and benignly watches it happen with no involvement.
In fact, Jesus described God in two words. In Matthew 6:9 He said, “This is how you should pray [in other words, this is how you should talk to God, this is how you should address the creator of the universe] Our Father in heaven.” God wants you to think of Him as a Father.
This is no big deal to us today because we talk a lot about the Fatherhood of God, that God is our Father. When Jesus said those words 2000 years ago, it was radical stuff. The hearers must have been absolutely shocked when He said, “When you pray, God wants you to call Him Father.” In the entire Old Testament over thousands of years, God is only referred to as Father seven times. Jesus refers to God as Father seven times in this chapter alone. In His life and in the gospels, He talks about God being our Father over 150 times. He said this is how God wants to relate to you.
The good news is that since God is a Father, we know that He is a person, not a power. It is very difficult to relate to a power, a force, an energy. But when you say God is a Father, I can relate to a father. I can be intimate with a father. I can talk to a father. I can have a relationship with a father. That’s the good news.
The bad news is, when I use the word “father”, for some people that conjures up all kinds of painful memories. Rather than it being a happy term, it’s a sad term for some and even an angry term for others. When I say the word “father”, for some of you, it stirs up deep resentment. You had a father who was neglectful. You had a father who was abusive, either physically or verbally. You had a father who just wasn’t there, a nonentity in your life. Some of you when you think of the word “father” it brings up fear. You remember phrases growing up like, “Just wait until your father gets home!” and you think, “If God is like my father… no thanks, God! I don’t need a God like my father was.” Human fathers can make homes a hell on earth. Human fathers can be selfish. Human fathers can be demanding. Human fathers can be inconsistent. They can be self-centered, abusive. They can be all kinds of things that we would say, I don’t want that in my life.
So Jesus qualified the term. He said, “This is how you should pray: Our Father in heaven.” He said you pray to your Heavenly Father. He’s not just talking about where God is. God is everywhere. He’s talking about the quality of God. He’s a heavenly Father as opposed to an earthly father. God is very, very different than human fathers. In the first place, God’s perfect. And none of us who are human fathers are. We’re imperfect, we make mistakes, we blow it. God has never blown it. He is unlike us. He’s at a higher plain. We are to say “Our Father in heaven” or “Our Heavenly Father.”
I’ve noticed that there are four common misconceptions about God. I’ve talked to thousands of people about God personally over the years. The misconceptions that people have tend to fall in one of four categories. I have no doubt that many of you here today have been deluded about one of these myths about God.