Some years ago, I was asked to say the blessing before the meal at our high school reunion. A classmate later thanked me for not calling God, “Father.”
That was during the height of a movement to make the Bible more gender neutral. Some translations changed “brothers” to “brothers and sisters,” for example. “Son” became “child.” Male pronouns were changed to gender neutral ones. Some suggested that instead of “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” we should say, “Mother, Daughter, and Womb.”
But Jesus called God “Father.”
He taught us to pray, “Our Father….”
And only God gets to name God.
In John 7, Jesus’ own brothers didn’t understand him. They knew he could do miracles, but they didn’t really understand why. So, they tried to get him to be a public figure like they expected, like the “world” expected.
There’s another push going on the in the “world” right now with respect to pronouns. The “world” says you get to pick your own. This may bring Jesus followers into more conflict with the “world.”
Now, it isn’t always productive for Jesus followers to do battle over the latest cultural trend. I often begin prayers by saying, “Gracious and Loving God….” We need to remember that patriarchal structures still hold people back. Historically, a biblical stance against divorce often trapped women in harmful relationships. Human fathers can fail us, and sadly, they often do.
But at their best, fathers provide for us, protect us, love, and care for us.
The best earthly fathers point to the way to the one, true Heavenly Father.
The Heavenly Father points to how earthly fathers should live.
When we fail to appreciate God as Father, we can miss out on the great blessing of the intimate, loving relationship God wants to have with us.
This Father’s Day we ought to remember that Jesus’ name for God was “Father.”