Pick Your Community: | Hopkins | Muhlenberg | Daviess | Christian | Henderson | Lakes | McCracken | Webster

Keeping the Faith - 'Our Father'

ronniemcbrayer300 orangeKENTUCKY (6/14/14) — 'Our Father.' Only two words, and yet, if we learned to pray these words as Jesus instructed, our lives would be radically transformed.

In Jesus’ day it was not uncommon to address God as Father; this wasn’t new. But Jesus made this way of speaking to and thinking about God, normative. “Father,” in Jesus’ view, should be the customary interpretation of God.

Jesus went so far as to call God “Abba.” This was not a formal term for the male parent. This was an affectionate Aramaic title used by the smallest of children, a term of tenderness. Welcome. Approachability. Vulnerability. To think of God as “Papa” or “Dad” was a total upheaval – a redemptive upheaval – in terms of God language.

Consider that the pietistic Jews of Jesus’ day wouldn’t even say God’s name, nor would they write it down. “Yahweh,” God’s name as revealed to the Old Testament patriarchs, was spelled without the vowels, all in an effort to maintain reverence. And a common Jewish prayer of Jesus’ day began with sixteen different adjectives to describe God, but the prayer never called his name.

What a contrast, as Jesus began his prayers with the simple, audacious word “Father.” God is neither a distant, ambivalent, unapproachable deity, nor a vindictive titan who has to be constantly placated. Instead, he is a loving parent, and consequently, we are his beloved children. We are accepted, treasured, and cherished.

This unconditional, parental love of God was the driving force behind Jesus’ ministry. Jesus didn’t come to earth as the Christ to change God’s mind about us – as if God really wasn’t sold on humanity in the first place and Jesus had to come work out a deal to avoid our destruction – that is absolutely preposterous.

No, Jesus didn’t come to change God’s attitude toward us. Jesus came to change our attitude about God, revealing him to be a benevolent Father wooing us into his welcoming arms. This God can be trusted. He can be revered. He can be loved, because he loves us. Embracing God as Father is nothing short of a spiritual shake-up, correcting the many misrepresented images that have been put before us.

Now, I’ll hurry to say that the use of “Father” should not be taken as exclusively paternalistic or masculine. Jesus was not talking about the sexual identity of God, as if God uses the men’s room. The point is that God relates to us as a compassionate parent, mother and father, not that God has a “Y” chromosome.

In fact, to introduce God as “Father” to some folks isn’t helpful; it is detrimental, as the word “Father” has too much baggage attached to it. This isn’t an attack on God’s parenthood. It is an acknowledgment that some people struggle with the image of divine parent, because they have no healthy model with which to compare it.

Too many people have had lousy, abusive fathers. Too many have been harmed, raped, hated, or abandoned by their fathers. Too many have problems with men – men who have used and maltreated them with such intensity, that to begin a prayer, “Our Father,” creates an emotional and spiritual tailspin before they even get started.

What comes to their mind when they think about God is not a beneficent image. And while they can speak of God as “Creator,” “Lord,” even “Mother,” the idea of Father is associated with far too much pain to be useful. So let me be clear that this is a metaphor. It is a signpost pointing to something else, someone else; someone who is better to us than anyone else could be; someone who loves with an absolute love; someone who welcomes us into his arms without qualification or reservation.

So you might call on the Almighty using words like God, Yahweh, Jehovah, Father, Mother, Parent, Papa, Protector, Provider, or Guardian – even Uncle Charlie or Aunt Lucille – whatever word is most associated with love, trust, welcome, and safety. Call God what you will; but call on him (or her).

You will be welcomed, always.

Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, pastor, and author. His newest book is “The Gospel According to Waffle House.” You can read more at www.ronniemcbrayer.me.

Disclaimer: The content supplied by columnists and letters to the Editor on this site does not in any way, shape or form, implied or otherwise, necessarily express or suggest endorsement or support of any of such content, statement, or opinions therein. SurfKY News does not necessarily adhere to or endorse content provided by outside non-staff sources.

© Copyright 2014 SurfKY News Group, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, or rewritten without permission. SurfKY News encourages you to share this story by using one of the social media links below.

In Other News...

Daviess County Traffic Advisory

DAVIESS COUNTY, Ky. (8/31/14) — The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet plans to close Kentucky 298 in Daviess County… Read More

Most Read This Week (Site-Wide)

August 29, 2014 8074

Luke's Flea Market Vendors' Home Away…

in News by Charles W. Riley II, SurfKY News
August 28, 2014 7417

Police Pursuit Spans Parts of Northern…

in Top Stories by Alex Piper, MCSO
August 30, 2014 7174

One Hospitalized After Officer-Involved…

in Top Stories by Charles W. Riley II, SurfKY News
August 29, 2014 3786

Business Spotlight - Magical Memories…

in Top Stories by Charles W. Riley II, SurfKY News
August 28, 2014 3465

Another Greenville Home Invasion Being…

in Top Stories by Wes Miller, GPD

Most Read Stories from Hopkins County

August 30, 2014 3151

Ponderosa Madisonville to Donate 10…

in Top Stories by Rita Dukes Smith, SurfKY News Director
August 30, 2014 1257

City of Madisonville Says 'Goodbye' to…

in Top Stories by Amber Averitt, SurfKY News
August 29, 2014 865

MCC Announces New Board Members

in Top Stories by Joyce Riggs
August 29, 2014 561

Trover Health Endowment Reaches $100,000…

in Top Stories by Joyce Riggs
August 28, 2014 459

Ceremony Honors Webster County WWII…

in Top Stories by Ami Clayton, SurfKY News

Most Read Stories from Owensboro

August 29, 2014 2414

Daviess County Sheriff’s Office Activity…

in News by Dennis Beard, SurfKY News
August 29, 2014 2354

Owensboro Police Department Activity…

in News by Dennis Beard, SurfKY News
August 28, 2014 2012

Downtown Trolley to Run on Labor Day

in News by Abby Shelton
August 30, 2014 1482

Owensboro Traffic Advisory

in News by Keith Todd
August 28, 2014 1297

Daviess County Sheriff’s Office Activity…

in News by Dennis Beard, SurfKY News

Most Read Stories from Muhlenberg County

August 28, 2014 7417

Police Pursuit Spans Parts of Northern…

in Top Stories by Alex Piper, MCSO
August 29, 2014 3786

Business Spotlight - Magical Memories…

in Top Stories by Charles W. Riley II, SurfKY News
August 28, 2014 3465

Another Greenville Home Invasion Being…

in Top Stories by Wes Miller, GPD
August 28, 2014 2202

Whitfield, Yonts Pay Tribute to Bob and…

in Top Stories by Paul McRee, SurfKY News
August 28, 2014 2117

Stanton Barrett's NASCAR Mustang Gets…

in Top Stories by Charles W. Riley II, SurfKY News

SurfKY News Group, Inc. Central Office & Printing Division
1125 Nebo Rd.  •  Madisonville, KY 42431  •  270.452.2249 (fax)
Main Number: 270.452.2727 (phone)  •  Printing Division Direct Line: 270.821.8600 (phone)

SurfKY Owensboro News Bureau
920 Frederica St. / Suite 210  •  Owensboro, KY 42301  •  270.683-8060 (phone)


Contact a member of our staff: www.surfky.com/contact
Copyright © 2014 SurfKY News Group, Inc.  •  Terms of Use  •  Site Map

social 03social 04social 22social 21social 06