Do you ever cringe at a word or phrase in church? I know I do; I cringe at the start of the Lord’s Prayer when we say “Our Father.”
I seriously wish Jesus had said something like “our eternal, omnipresent, omnipotent Godhead” because that removes God from a messy family relationship. Not all Christians have an easy relationship with their earthly fathers and within the church universal there are Christians who have been abused by their fathers, abandoned by their fathers or rejected by their fathers. How do those, my brothers and sisters in Christ, feel about saying “Our Father.”? What picture does it bring up for them?
If we want to understand what Jesus meant we must understand what being a father meant in first centaury Palestine; in particular what they thought the biological relationship between a father and child. While they would have expected a father to provide and care for his children (although, as I pointed out above, this doesn’t always happen) they would also have regarded the children as a continuation of the father. They believed the father placed the seed in his wife and the child grew from that with no biological input from the mother! Now this seems crazy to us today with our understanding of biology and genetics but it is part of the picture of fatherhood that would have been in the minds of Jesus’ listeners (and probably Jesus himself.)
When we look at it this way we find “Our Father” not only confirming a God who cares and provides for us but also a God who loves us so much He made us in His image! Made us to be creative as He is creative and to be loving as He is Love.
So next time you say the Lord’s Prayer take a quick moment to reflect on the God who loves you so much He made you in His image.