Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Our Father in Heaven

“This, then, is how you should pray:

“‘Our Father in heaven,

hallowed be your name...’

~Matthew 6:9 (NIV).

Some people depict our heavenly Father as a distant, unapproachable, judging God — one that should only be awed — whilst others portray this Covenant Lord as an almost cuddly, ‘daddy’, God — one decidedly passionate about our welfare.

These perceptions are clearly influenced by our experiences of God, our interactions with life, and what we’ve been taught.

But, which view is right? Are we to be overawed by God or swathed in cotton wool? What’s our relationship with our Father in heaven really supposed to be like?

The ‘Hallowed’ Character of the Father

Being the very essence of God, as the Son and the Holy Spirit also are, the Father is, however, naturally ‘senior’ by manner of role regarding the Godhead.

If Jesus counsels us to pray in agreement that the Father’s name is hallowed — to pray and act in order to hallow the Divine name — that the Father’s name be hallowed — we can easily determine that our Lord himself did these things. Indeed, Jesus instinctively honoured the Father ahead of himself. There are too many gospel references to mention here. Jesus honoured his Father perfectly according to the Fifth Commandment: “Honor your father and your mother...” (Exodus 20:12a).

Hallowing God’s name is simply coming to a true understanding — complicit with our behaviour — of the coming Kingdom reality; as it is eternally. It is a fact: God’s name is hallowed. It’s highly appropriate that Jesus seeks to divert the hallowing of ‘God’s name’ onto the Father. The Father is most quintessentially, God; as it relates to the eternality of this fact.

Now, when Jesus hallowed the name of the Father, he obeyed the Father fully. To truly hallow God means fervent obedience.

How Are We to Interact with the Father?

The Bible clearly indicates that, due Jesus’ reconciling work on the cross, we can approach the Father directly. This means feeling intimate, and relating in intimacy, with our Father is perfectly appropriate.

It was Jesus, though, that reunited us with God. The pure fact we can interrelate with the Godhead is because of Jesus; we engage with God in and through Jesus — the channel by which is the God-bequeathed Holy Spirit present in each believer.

But we’re also to ‘hallow’ our Father; that is, to begin to seek to understand the wealth, honour, and glory worthy of God alone. Of course, this can’t be grasped. That initiates within us the right kind of wonder implicit in ‘hallowing’ the name of God.


So, as we approach the Father, it’s not ‘awe or adore’, but ‘awe and adore.’

It helps to appreciate the majestically diverse character of God as a whole; the Father as equal yet senior, though not superior to the Son and Holy Spirit. Reverence, with the open trust of unparalleled intimacy, is to be our approach with our Father in heaven.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Graphic Credit: NeoSeeker.

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