Jun 19

Rev Gav

What does it mean to call God Father?

Christians believe in a creator God that takes risks with us, allows us to make mistakes, and embraces us with love.

I remember a scene from a book I once read, where a father places his child on a high cabinet, then tells the child to jump into his arms. As the child trustingly launches himself into the air, the father steps back and allows the child to hit the ground, then tells the child that the lesson is never to trust anyone. I was horrified. What kind of father would do such an awful thing? And then it struck me that fathers often do awful things, don’t they?

Some of us have had absent, abusive, demanding, spoiling, distracted, hypocritical, macho, or passive fathers and because of this, it can be difficult for us to comprehend, appreciate, or relate to God as our father. Similarly, for those of us who are fathers, it can be difficult to know how to father our own children when we have had no positive example in our own lives. As a father myself, I am painfully aware of the times I have let my own children down with my words and behaviour. We all mess up.

You may well have heard the phrase, ‘to err is human,’ and it is attributed to the first Century philosopher Plutarch who coined the expression at about the same time as much of the New Testament in our Bibles was written. It means that humans make mistakes, and we do. Making mistakes is part of what it means to be human, and how else may we learn if it is not by trying to think something, say something, or do something new and run the risk of getting it wrong? So why are we so afraid of making mistakes?

The problem is our use of language in that there are few words associated with making mistakes that are not associated with that which is morally or ethically wrong. Take the word ‘wrong’ for example. Even that insinuates that there is some ethical or moral dimension to the wrongness! We associate wrongness with badness and therefore all mistakes become tainted with the fear of making them.

Of course, humans consciously make morally poor decisions all the time — speeding or driving recklessly, going behind a loved one’s back, lying, and so on, but these, although they are ethically and morally wrong, are not the same as genuine, unconscious mistakes.

A mistake is simply when an outcome is not the one that is desired, appropriate, expected, or fits in a given context or scenario, and is nothing to be feared.

Now,  you might be wondering what all this has to do with us and with God, after all, this is supposed to be a spiritual message written by a pastor. Well, I want to answer the question, does God make mistakes? And the answer is, no, because an act of creation and taking a risk is not a mistake, however, does God allow mistakes? Yes, absolutely!

All creative acts, whether scientific or artistic, take the risk that may result in an undesired, unexpected, or inappropriate outcome. A scientist searching for a vaccine may make hundreds, if not thousands, of experiments, with all but one having the desired result. A painter may paint a hundred canvases before she stands back and is satisfied that the portrait captures the essence of the subject.

In the same way, God is creative. God is always taking risks, and we are the perfect (or should I say, imperfect?) example. We are God’s creation and God has taken a risk with us, wanting us to love in return, love one another, and love the world around us, yet we have messed up and continue to do so. We are God’s wonderful creative risk and this is okay and nothing to be feared because God is not only creative and risk-taking but loving. It is God’s love that enfolds us, protects us, and gives us the space and freedom to be all we can be. We are wonderfully created, broken, but importantly, loved.

This then, is why we can call God Father. A father gives space and freedom to a child to be all they can be. A father takes risks that the child will not always produce the desired, appropriate, or expected outcome! But a father loves, and that love forgives, protects, and encourages. Every child should live without fear of making mistakes. Every child should absolutely be allowed to explore their creativity and take risks. Every child should be loved.

For us fathers, this is our role, our vocation, and as we reflect on our own fatherhood we may be aware of how we have failed to be the fathers God created us to be. Thankfully, we too are embraced by God’s love, and our own shortcomings are covered by God’s forgiveness and grace. Therefore, as we trust in God’s unfailing love, let us renew our determination to be better fathers, to provide freedom and space for our children to make mistakes, to protect them, to encourage them, and to love them to bits.

Have a blessed week.

Rev Gav

Be the first to reply!
Be the first to like this post!

© fab.church