Creed: The Father Says 'Welcome to My Family'
- Monday, October 25, 2004
Editor's Note: "Creed" is an ongoing article series that discusses the core beliefs of Christianity as expressed in the Apostle's and Nicene creeds. Links to the other installments are listed at the end of this article.
I have some friends who have a teenage daughter we all like to call “A.” While in high school, “A” met a young girl who was in foster care and who needed a new “home.”
“A” brought her to her home to meet her parents and…well, now my friends have two daughters instead of just one.
Not too long ago, the mother and two girls and I were guests at a bridal shower. As we sat around, chatting and sipping on punch, the adopted daughter was quite animated as she shared with me a funny incident that had recently happened within their home. I noted immediately that as she spoke of my friends, the couple who had taken her in, she called them “Mom” and “Dad.”
Welcome to the Family!
Just as this young woman, drawn by the love of her new parents, came to the point of calling them by maternal and paternal endearments, we have a Brother who has brought us into the Father’s home…into the Father’s family…and we, too, can call Him “Abba!”
This is a concept most of us have heard since we first began reading the Bible. But for the first century Jews, it was not so common. How could one ever suppose to be a part of God’s family? Yet, when Jesus talked of God, He spoke of Him as “Father.”
Not just His Father, but our Father.
The New Testament Our Father God
The first recording we have of God being referred to as “Father” by Jesus is in Matthew’s gospel.
In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:16)
This statement comes after the metaphorical “Salt and Light” instruction He gave to those who were listening to Him preach that day. Only Matthew’s letter refers to God as being the “Father in Heaven” repeatedly. Mark and Luke refer to Him thusly once and John not at all.
However, I think the focus is not on where the Father is as much as to whom the Father belongs.
What Jesus Said About Our Father
Do you want to know what I think it the most awesome thing about being a Christian? No, not that we get to go to Heaven…though that’s pretty exciting! Rather, what I think is the most wonderful, stupendous part is this: every day…every single day…we have the opportunity to know God better. To know Him more. Whether through His Word, His movement in our dance with Him, or in our time of prayer, we have this unbelievable opportunity to know the one true God!
Yippee! Yippee! Yippee! (I’m doing the Happy Dance just thinking about it!)
With that in mind, what did Jesus say about His Father, whom He is so wonderfully willing to share with those of us whom are called “adopted”? (Ephesians 1:5)
1. He calls upon us to love, pray for, and forgive … everyone!
But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? (Matthew 5:44-46)
And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins. (Mark 11:25)
God the Father is the forgiver of sins…but that forgiveness comes with the responsibility of giving forgiveness to others.
But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. (Matthew 6:15)
(Yeah, being a part of this incredible family of God puts certain responsibilities upon us. Recently, I met a lovely lady from Great Britain. She and I spoke of the royal family of England and some of the misadventures of late. She said, “When you are a part of the royal family, you have responsibilities to perform and behave in certain ways. It’s important to know that early on.”
Like those who are members of the royal family of England, we—the Royal Family of God—have responsibilities toward others. To love them. To pray for them. And to forgive them. Otherwise, our status as members falls into jeopardy.)
2. God the Father rewards His children!
Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. (Matthew 6:1)
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)
(I suppose it’s kinda like getting an allowance. You remember, don’t you? Take out the garbage, clean your room, dust the furniture, do well in school…and you get a reward. You didn’t get an allowance from the daddy down the street or the mother at the market. No, you received your “reward” from your parents. That reward came from acting according to the requirments.)
Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. (Luke 12:32)
3. God the Father is keenly aware of our needs…long before we know or even ask of Him.
Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. (Matthew 6:8)
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 the Holy Spirit to those who ask him! (Luke 11:13)
4. God the Father won’t leave us hanging when we’re out there representing the family.
Do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. (Luke 10: 19b, 20)
5. God the Father counts every single one of His children as precious.
In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost. (Matthew 18:14)
Jesus had just given the parable of the 100 sheep when He said this about our Father. If one…just one…should wander away from Him, would He go after it? You betcha! That one is just as important to Him as the 99 who did not wander off.
At some point, those of us who are a part of the family have wandered off. Some of us were aimless for years while others may have only stepped away from the fold momentarily. No matter. God the Father is very much aware of us all. We are all His children and we are all important to Him.
When our youngest daughter was nearing her teen years, we moved to a large city. When she became old enough, she would to “go out” with her friends at night. Do you know what this meant for her father and me? Lots of sleepless nights. Nights when we went to bed…but not to sleep. Until we heard the front door open and the deadbolt being locked back into place, we were unable to rest. Why? Because our little one—though an adult—was out there somewhere in the dark of night in a great big city monsters prowling about.
God the Father feels the same way. He just “sleeps better” (though God doesn’t slumber nor sleep, according to the psalmist), when He knows we’re safe at home.
6. God the Father is merciful!
Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. (Luke 6:36)
Ah, there it is, another responsibility.
Matthew Henry wrote: These are hard lessons to flesh and blood. But if we are thoroughly grounded in the faith of Christ's love, this will make his commands easy to us. Every one that comes to him for washing in his blood, and knows the greatness of the mercy and the love there is in him, can say, in truth and sincerity, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? Let us then aim to be merciful, even according to the mercy of our heavenly Father to us.
If you spend enough time with me, you will most likely hear me say the following: I think we too often forget where we came from…what we were like before Christ got hold of us.
I can’t take credit for that statement. You see, when I finally, truly yielded my life to Christ (at the age of 26), I became pretty critical of those I knew who walked on both sides of the picket fence. Quite judgmental; yes that was me! Until one day, my husband—quite tired of my finger pointing—pointed his finger back and me and said, “Remember where you came from.”
God our Father was so merciful (and gracious!) to me…how could I be but anything else to others?
Are You In?
As we look at these attributes of God our Father, we can also see the responsibilities of being members of His family. Even the only begotten Son of God, Jesus, came to earth with specific tasks that had to be completed. Not “should be” or “might be” or even “could be” completed. They had to be done. And in the doing, we became adopted sons and daughters of God.
So…are you in? He’s my Father. Is He your Father, too?
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