What a Father!
Our Father in heaven … (Matthew 6:9)
When Jesus encouraged us to see God as ‘our Father in heaven’, he wasn’t giving us God’s address! ‘Oh, you’ll find him up there in heaven; third turning on the left after the Milky Way…’ He was telling us, not where God could be found, but what God was like.
Two things strike us about this expression. First, it tells us that our God is a Father without limits. It brings home, not that he is ‘out there’, but that his heavenly nature has no limitations. He is in heaven and the highest heavens - not trapped in one place like some territorial ‘god’. This means that, when we come to him in prayer, we shouldn’t think for one minute that there is any limit on what he can do! As Job put it, ‘I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted’ (Job 42:2). Or as Mary said, ‘Nothing is impossible with God’ (Luke 1:37).
The second thing this phrase brings home is that our God is a Father without equal. He alone is enthroned in heaven; he has no rival; there really is no one like him! As the psalmist puts it, ‘Among the gods there is none like you, O Lord; no deeds can compare with yours’ (Psalm 86:8). Or as God himself declares, ‘To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?’ (Isaiah 40:25).
If God is our heavenly Father, then a number of things follow. First, it means we can trust him; we need not fear that there is a ‘nasty streak’ in him or that he wants to ‘catch us out’ in some way. If we ask him for bread, he won’t give us a stone, Jesus assured us (Matthew 7:9-11). He just isn’t like that! Second, it means that we can know his love. As John put it, ‘See how very much our heavenly Father loves us, for he allows us to be called his children, and we really are!’ (1 John 3:1, NLT). Third, it means that we can be intimate with him. We can bring our most personal desires and needs to him, our loving Father.
What a Father this is that you have!
‘When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father…’ (Matthew 6:6)
Copyright © 2017 Martin Manser and Mike Beaumont
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