Summary: Fatherhood of God and the foundation for all our prayers
Richard Nixon enjoyed family dinners with his daughters Tricia and Julie; JFK enjoyed having his children play in the Oval Office while he worked. FDR and Eleanor had six children; President Harding had a daughter with Nan Britton and President Van Buren had four sons. Yet all of these “fathers” had their problems from lying to extramarital affairs to seeking to deprive people of their rights in order to gain political positioning. Yet, their lapses pale in comparison to some of those we’ve seen recently such as Jerry Jones’ murder of his former in-laws and infant daughter or closer still Edward Morris’ alleged murder of his family. Then you have the regular run-of-the-mill abuse, abandonment and assaults which take place in American families everyday of the year.
What’s more many of us have experienced such things ourselves. Let me make a statement that some of you may not agree with but I consider it true because of my personal experience with people. No human father has ever lived up to the Fatherhood exhibited by God. Any of us who are a father have been imperfect as fathers. Many of us have carried around with us an innate sense that we could have been more; done more; offered more; or loved more as fathers. What’s more any of us who have ever had a father, whether present or absent, need to understand that none of them are perfect. The next generation of father’s will be the same—because it’s the nature of our human sin.
The issue of dealing with those abusive experienced that are suffered at the hand of someone who was suppose to love us is something for professionals to work out with us. That’s not the purpose of this sermon or this series. My purpose for this series is to have us start to retrain our minds, ears, and eyes so that when we hear “Our Father” our reaction is becomes one of relaxation rather than stress. It is my goal to help us begin to see why God accepts this title and why Jesus uses it to describe His relationship with God.
“The Lord’s Prayer”, as we know it, was given by Jesus to be a model for us but unfortunately over the centuries it’s become a mechanical, routine part of worship. When it does, it becomes less than Jesus meant it to be and we lose the truth that this pattern of prayer has for us today.
“Our Father” sets the whole stage for our prayer. For it is the perception of God that we have that informs how we communicate with God. For example if we see God as a celestial killjoy we end up praying in order to convince him to do things our way. If we imagine God to be some doting old grandfather then our prayers can become something like a letter a to Santa Clause. If God is mean then we come to Him afraid. If God is distant, then we come trying to get His attention. But, if we come to God on His terms, as Father, we are able to be confident and assured of God listening to us.
The Fatherhood of God protects us. Loving fathers protect their children. In the ancient world the father was the clans protector and defender. You see this in God’s attitude in Hosea 11. He’s been hurt by Israel’s constant rebellion but God makes up His mind to redeem them.
As our protector God is the giver of “good” gifts. He does what is right for us. Don’t get me wrong this is one of those “good news”, “bad news” things. The good news is that God’s protection flows from His love and so He does what’s right. The bad news is that what we think is right may not be what God does. Remember Jesus telling his followers that when a son asks for a fish a father doesn’t give them a snake? Then Jesus tells us “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11) God’s desire is to give us even better than we expect.
Here’s the greatest news of what is called the “Gospel”. God becomes our Father not because we’ve been created by God; but because God has adopted into His family those who have given their lives to Jesus, His Son.
I know that we’ve heard that “everyone is a ‘child of God’ but that’s not true according to the Bible. John tells us “to those who received him, who believed on His name [Jesus] he gave the right to become children of God.” It’s a title is reserved for Christians, those who have believed in Jesus.