Knowing God as Our Father
God has many names—such as Creator, King, and Shepherd—and they reveal various facets of His character. But there’s a name for Him that meets one of our human needs in an intimate way: Father. Every person is born with a deep desire to be loved unconditionally, but when this yearning isn’t fully met, many hurts and scars can result. What security and wholeness there is in knowing that we can call God “my Father” and receive that unconditional love! Scripture tells us He is “a father of the fatherless” (Psalm 68:5) and that He will never leave us, even if our earthly parents abandon us (Psalm 27:10).
Jesus sometimes addressed God as Abba, which is Aramaic for “father” (Mark 14:36). That was a brand-new concept at the time; we do find God spoken of as a father to Israel (Jer. 31:9), but the word was used sparingly in the Old Testament. Even God’s personal name, Yahweh, was considered too holy to be pronounced out loud, so few people thought of having a personal connection to almighty God.
From the very beginning, God has shown Himself to be a loving parent, but it is only through Christ that we’ve inherited the privilege to call the Him “our Father” (Gal. 4:4-7). The New Testament gives witness to Christ’s revelation of the wonderful relationship we can have with our heavenly Father: The name appears 245 times—over 100 times in John’s gospel alone. Paul opens each of his letters acknowledging God as our Father. The fact that man could know God as the perfect parent was a radical new idea in Jesus’ time, and it continues to be a life-impacting truth today.
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