Bible Reading: Romans 8:14-17
For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.
The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again;
rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship.
And by him we cry, "Abba, Father."
The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children.
Now if we are children, then we are heirs, heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
I have a vivid memory of walking in Bradgate Park in Leicestershire when our son Tom was maybe two years old, of throwing him up in air and of catching him as he came down. Like many children with an implicit trust in their father, he thought it was great. And like many mothers, Helen wasn’t so sure. Though she did take a photo, which is probably why I remember it so well.
Jesus taught us to pray ‘Our Father’, and many bible passages refer to God as ‘Father’. I am sure that our image of God as ‘Father’ will be shaped by our relationship with our own father, and by other fathers we know, but I wonder, What does the image of God as ‘Father’ conjure up for you?
Is it of a father doting over his baby, or of a father proud of their child’s achievements? Or is your image of God as ‘Father’ that of a more austere figure, keen to discipline and chastise? Or is it even of an absent Father, taking little interest in his child’s life?
Jesus referred to his Heavenly Father as ‘Abba, Father’ and here in Paul’s letter to the Romans, amazingly, we are encouraged to do the same.
Abba is an ancient Aramaic word, used by the people of Jesus’ time. Abba is an intimate form of address that is neither childish like ‘Daddy’ nor formal like ‘Father’. ‘Abba’ is rooted in a trusting relationship that transcends age and is not limited by our own experiences of our fathers. It is a relationship that Paul describes elsewhere that,‘Always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres’.
The heart of the Christian faith is not what we do or don’t do, nor is it what others do or don’t do. Nor is it even about Sunday worship. The heart of the Christian faith is about our relationship with God, the relationship of a Father with his child. It is about our relationship with ‘Abba, Father’.
This is the relationship that God is calling us to share with him. It is from the security of this relationship that all of our other relationships are enriched and it is from the security of this relationship that we will want to gather with our Christian brothers and sisters so that we can worship ‘Abba, Father’ together.
Do you know God as ‘Abba, Father’? If you are not sure, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal him to you as ‘Abba, Father’ and let this relationship shape your life today.
Abba, Father, help me to live my life in the assurance of my relationship with you, and may this relationship be reflected in everything I say and do.
Abba, Father, let me be yours alone