by Travis Lockyer, ACA Head of School
Imagine if the King of England was your dad. Or George Washington? Or what if a famous basketball player like Michael Jordan or LeBron James was your dad? Or a famous actor like Brad Pitt or Tom Hanks? Can you imagine seeing your dad in movies or on TV or up leading an entire nation? I’m guessing you would really look up to your dad and want to grow up in a way to not disappoint him. Being a part of that family would also give you special things that only people in that family could do. You would get to go to special events. You would get to sit in special seats. People would notice you. Pay attention to you. But they would also be expecting you to act a certain way.
As we look at the prayer which Jesus taught his disciples, The Lord’s prayer, it starts off with “our father.” So let’s take a look at what it means to have God as our father. And if He is a father, then those in His family are his children. So we will also talk about what it means to be a child of God.
What we think about God is the most important thing about how we will live our life. What do I mean by that? Who I think God is and what I think about him will determine how I live my life.
For example, if I do not think God is my creator. Instead I came from a big bang and then a pile of goo. My life really isn’t that special so it doesn’t really matter what I do with it. If I don’t think God is eternal and infinite, that I can sneak around and God doesn’t know what I’m doing. I can hide from God. If I don’t think God is just and will judge every thought, word and deed according to his perfect law. Then I am going to live like I am the center of the universe. That I know better than God. That I can make the rules. My thoughts about God influence how I am living my life.
If God is my father then there is a way that I will live my life because I am in the family of God. God is not someone that I make up in my mind. No, I look to the Bible and see that God has told me about who He is. The Westminster catechism takes what the Bible says about God and summarizes it this way. It asks What is God? God is a Spirit,(1) infinite,(2) eternal,(3) and unchangeable,(4) in his being,(5) wisdom,(6) power,(7) holiness,(8) justice, goodness, and truth.(9)
That is God. At least it is an attempt at trying to accurately describe Him. If what I think about God is the most important thing about how I live my life, then I need to know the true God. As He shows us in the Bible. Not some god that I come up with in my mind. He is our father. We all are part of the same family. Which means we all can work together to know our father better and better. Our heavenly father is a Spirit,(1) infinite,(2) eternal,(3) and unchangeable,(4) in his being,(5) wisdom,(6) power,(7) holiness,(8) justice, goodness, and truth.(9)
It’s not what I think God should be. it is what the Bible says God is. And I can either believe that and live my life under His authority or I can say no thanks and try to live my life as I please but also suffer the consequences of my choices. He will either be my father or my judge.
A good father immediately brings up feelings of love. God as our father has infinite love for you and me. God is full of love because God is love. God our heavenly father has eternal love. Which means it doesn’t have a place where it stops. It just keeps going on forever. It will never run out.
If God is your father and you are his child then one of the most important things you can do is pray. It can also be one of the hardest things to do. Isn’t it strange that we find it easier to talk to people around us than it is to talk to God? When we pray we are at our best and worst. What I mean is there is no greater activity for us than to come before our father in heaven. But when we come before him, his holiness shows us our sin and we can do nothing except fall on our knees. We are at our worst. But like a loving father, he forgives and restores us. Your prayer life is the greatest test of how your spiritual life is going. Someone who is growing in their christian walk and finding peace and joy in Christ, that person is a person of prayer. Because that is where you go to grow in your walk. To find forgiveness. To find peace and joy. You are at your greatest and highest when you are on your knees.
What happens when you become a child of God, you see God differently. Before, He was your judge. Every one of your thoughts, your words, and your actions have to measure up to God’s perfect law. You stand before a holy judge. Condemned to death for being a law breaker because your life does not measure up. Ephesians 2 says But God who is rich in mercy made you alive. God is no longer your judge. He becomes your father.
So now do you do whatever you want? I no longer have to be afraid of God as the punisher of my sin so I’m free to do whatever I want? I don’t think so. My dad played football and wrestled in college. Not just any college. He did both at the university of wyoming. Their mascot is the cowboys and it is a picture of a cowboy riding a bucking bronco. Wimps need not apply. Spending time in Wyoming will toughen you up. Especially if you play sports like football and wrestling. By the way, their football stadium is an outdoor stadium. Outside, playing football, in Wyoming, during fall and winter. Let’s just say most of us in south Texas would not make it. To say that he was a little intimidating would be an understatement. When my dad told me to do something, do you think I was like no, I’m not going to that. I’m going to go play. No way! If I talked back like that, my dad had a thick leather belt that had the University of Wyoming tooled in it and he would get that and he would take me over his knee and I experienced Wyoming in ways that I would never want to again. No I had a healthy fear of my dad. Not scared but a deep respect. I also love my dad. And have fun times with him. I both respect and love him. The same is true of our heavenly father. We are to fear him. A respect, an awe and reverence for him. We are to have sorrow and be ashamed for our sins. But we also come with confidence, knowing he will forgive us. He is a perfect dad who corrects us but also grabs us up and hugs us because he loves us. As you think about Adam, what happened when he sinned. Adam ran and hid from God. He felt the shame of his sin. What did God do? He searched for him. Brought him out. Covered his shame. God did not reject him but loved him. That is what our heavenly father does to us.
If I am a child of God and if He is my father, then I realize I am in the family of God and that I am expected to live my life and act and think a certain way. The way that a child of God would act and think. I didn’t grow up in a southern home. I didn’t grow up with the same manners that many of you have. We didn’t say ma’am or sir. We said yeah, yep, nay and uh huh. Imagine if your dad asked you to do something and you said yeah instead of yes sir. If it was really important he might say something like in this house as part of this family you say yes sir. Why? Because your identity as part of the family means you will act a certain way. The same is true of a child of God. Your identity as a child of God means you will live and act a certain way that reflects back to your dad. And makes people say, wow, you have a great dad.
When we pray, our father. It is a reminder about who our father is. He is God. Not some idea that I have about Him. But the God of the Bible. The more I know about God. The better I can live my life in a way that honors him as my father. The better I can show the world I am a child of a king. One of the things that I must be doing as His child is praying. Because I have a loving father then I know I can confess my sin and he will forgive. I can ask for his help. And he will give it. But I must be willing to come before him and pray. And then go and obey.
One of the things that Daniel did was pray. The bible says he did it at least three times a day. Even when his life was in danger, he prayed. Let’s dare to be a Daniel.