Our Father in Heaven, by Pastor Bennett
In my previous pondering (Nov 10), we looked at “The Lord’s Prayer” (Matt 6.5-15). While the prayer of our Lord is a model prayer for us to follow, it is also a concise summary of the Christian faith as a worldview (an idea explored more thoroughly in A Transforming Vision by William Edgar). So today we’ll begin exploring the prayer more deeply, taking it bit by bit as we go.
Every worldview has a starting point—a foundation—a beginning. The thing upon which everything else stands. An ultimate authority.
The Christian worldview begins with God—our Father in heaven. Jesus begins his prayer by saying, Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed by thy name. That’sthe beginning of the Christian worldview.
Consider the very first words in Scripture: “In the beginning, God” (Gen 1.1).
Every worldview tries to make sense of justice, right and wrong—and how we know right from wrong, what true human flourishing is, why we’re here, how we got here, etc.
How do we understand justice? In the beginning was the Word (Jn 1.1). God himself is the foundation and standard for justice.
How do you know right from wrong? God himself is the foundation for our understanding of morality and the ultimate standard of goodness and perfection.
Why are we here? In the beginning, God made man in his own image to have a relationship with him and bring glory to him.
Underneath everything we know, think, see, and experience, there is a God who has made all things and has revealed himself to us. He is the fundamental starting point in the Christian worldview and in all of life.
And this God is our heavenly Father. Think about that! When Moses stood before Pharaoh he was to declare, ‘Thus says the Lord, “Israel is my firstborn son… let my son go…”‘ (Ex. 4:22-23). When his people were disobedient, the Lord asks them why they are ungrateful, because, ‘Is not he your Father who created you…?’ (Deut. 32:6). Psalm 68: 5 calls God the ‘Father of the fatherless.’ Jesus refers to God as his own Father, and as the Father of his people, over and over again.
But when you hear that God is a Father, what do you think about that? Some people are understandably troubled. Why? Sometimes people have fathers who are far from the kind, protective, providing Father in heaven of the Lord’s Prayer. Sometimes dad’s epically fail to represent what our Father in heaven is like, and therefore put a bad taste in the mouths of their children for God as Father.
Yet just as Scripture sets God up as the ultimate and perfect foundation and standard for morality and justice, he is also the ultimate and perfect standard of what a true father is. All fathers in this world are fathers, whether good or bad at the job, because He is Father first.
In the book referenced above, Edgar writes, “God is the good shepherd, yet earthly shepherds are at times far from good at their work. God is our dwelling place, yet most earthly abodes are far from sufficient. God is enthroned forever, yet most earthly rulers are flawed and arbitrary. God is the bridegroom, yet most earthly husbands are far from adequate. Thus, when we call God our Father, we do so in the understanding that no earthly father can come close to the heavenly image. These earthly parallels are merely useful, if true, descriptions of qualities in God never approached by the earthly analogies. Even if one had a marvelous father on earth, he could never come close to the fatherhood of God.”
May we pray to our Father in heaven, recognizing him as the ultimate authority and starting point in all of life.
We’ll continue this discussion next time, taking a deeper look into our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.