God as Father is a core belief of the Evangelical Methodist Church. Their website says, “We believe in God the Father Almighty, revealed to mankind as an awesome God of Grace, love, might, mercy, justice and holiness.” That’s an overwhelming statement when you consider God who is full of grace, love, might, mercy, justice and holiness. Each of those adjectives deserves its own blog to even halfway understand, so I’ll just stick with God, the Father for now.
When I say I believe in God, the Father, I offend some people. Well, that’s nothing new because everyone lives to be offended these days. People are offended by calling God Father because they claim it is not inclusive, or that God is neither male nor female. This post is not written to demean those who get offended by my use of God, the Father. It is written for me to share my core beliefs, and I hope, the core doctrines of the EMC. So, if you’re already offended, there’s an easy fix. Stop reading. Problem solved.
THE APOSTLE’S CREED
For those not offended by God the Father, the statement of the EMC echoes the historic document of the Christian faith–the Apostle’s Creed. The Apostle’s Creed contains only the essential, Biblical elements necessary for a strong Christian faith. Its brevity is its beauty. The Creed is not weighted down with confusing verbiage. The Creed is historically rooted, and it is widely accepted across many denominations as the most concise expression of our historic faith.
The Creed begins “I believe in God the Father Almighty…” The most elementary aspect of our faith is in God, who has revealed Himself to us as Father and Creator. The Bible begins with the words, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” The Bible reveals God as Creator, but it also goes on to reveal God as Father. He is God the Father Almighty.
How do we unpack that phrase? How do we unpack the infinite with the finite? The truth is that God is unknowable unless God chooses to make Himself known. Isn’t that true of any person, though? People remain a mystery to his/her companions as long as they are silent. As soon as one speaks, though, others catch a glimpse of that person’s character, intentions, and personality.
God is knowable to us because God spoke to us. He has spoken in His creation, and He has spoken to us as Father through His son, Jesus Christ. The revelation of God in the Bible, through His Son Jesus reveals God who is righteous and merciful. In Jesus, we see the heart of a loving God reaching out to his creation that is longing to be reconciled to its creator.
To believe in God, the Father Almighty is to confess that we believe in this one God, and no other. For all that God is, God is supremely Father and Creator. If God is Father, then we are his children. When we embrace God as Father, suddenly all of creation becomes our family home. That should certainly change our perspective about creation, and about how we deal with it.
While it’s true we could seek to explore the depths to which God is Almighty, and all that Almighty means, but in so doing, we might miss the fact that this God who is beyond our description and comprehension is supremely interested in a personal relationship with each one of us.
We did not invent the idea of God as Father. God did. It was the relationship with Jesus that shows us the way to the Father’s heart. In Luke’s Gospel, we encounter Jesus as just a lad, left in Jerusalem by an unsuspecting family. Their search finds Jesus at the Temple speaking with the teachers gathered there, and Jesus’ reply to Mary and Joseph is, “Didn’t you know I must be about my Father’s business?” (Luke 2:41-52). While Jesus was dying on the cross, it was to his Father that he committed his spirit, and when Jesus taught his disciples to pray, he taught them to say, “Our Father.”
To embrace God as Father takes the abstract notion of philosophers of an impersonal, first cause or prime mover, and reveals to us that God is a personal God, who seeks a relationship with us. God as Father becomes more than some exalted being who thunders from a mountaintop, and whose face could not be looked upon, and reveals God to be one who is filled with love and grace.
God as Father makes God as one who is approachable, and who longs to embrace us as much as we long to embrace God. As God’s children, we are welcomed into a family that is more extensive than even the purest bloodlines. From God, who is Father, our being and blessings descend, and to God, we can turn our minds and hearts in love and gratitude. When we become God’s children, we enter a relationship that showers us with love, intimacy and care. And we respond with faith.
ALL ABOUT TRUST
That type of relationship is exemplified best in our children. Their trust is such that they can ask God anything. Perhaps you’ve heard some of these letters to God children have written. Perhaps your own child has written a letter like these, and you were touched by the intimacy contained in their child-like faith:
- Dear God, If You watch me in church on Sunday, I’ll show you my new shoes.—Mickey
- Dear God, I read the Bible. What does “begat” mean? No one will tell me. Love, Alison
- Dear God, I went to this wedding and they kissed right in church. Is that okay?—Neil
- Dear God, Thank you for the baby brother, but what I prayed for was a puppy.—Joyce
- Dear God, My brother told me about being born but it doesn’t sound right. They’re just kidding aren’t they?—Marsha
- Dear God, We read Thomas Edison made light. But in Sunday school they said You did it. So I bet he stole your idea.—Sincerely, Donna
- Dear God, I didn’t think orange went with purple until I saw the sunset You made on Tuesday. That was cool.—Eugene
The trust and intimacy these children, and almost all children, place in God is the kind of relationship God desires with us. It can be ours when we respond to God’s call to us in Jesus Christ.
So, that’s what I mean when I say “I believe in God the Father Almighty.” There’s a whole lot more to unpack in that almighty part, but it all starts with God as my Father.
Until next time, keep looking up…