December 9, 2018
There is a kind of assumption that all the believers of the world believe in God in the same way and with the same meaning. There is a sense in which it is true that everyone who does not believe in many God’s believes that the role of divinity is filled by a single player. But the fact is that Christians, when they profess their faith in the one God do so by specifying immediately – the Father Almighty. The implications of this are truly stupendous.
God is never not a Father. His Fatherhood is more real than his omnipotence. He is Father even if he were not Creator. It is of God’s own nature to be a loving giver of life. As life’s loving Giver he is intimately concerned that his gift thrive. He is also saddened when his gift is spurned or selfishly appropriated for purposes not his.
Old Testament Judaism recognized that a unique God had to be a creator, and he had to be a loving creator – i.e. he was not constrained in the act of creation by force or fear or need or, even, by his own nature. His ongoing relationship with his creation – a relationship called covenant – they first claimed as their own (no one else was applying for the job), but came in time to recognize as the deepest character of his creativity.
Following the example of the nations around them, the Jews would sometimes refer to their king as son of God. But that was understood to be an adoptive relationship, inaugurated, not in God’s eternity, but in the temporal realm of political life and the ritual of royal inauguration.
It was Jesus’ use of the title my Father or my heavenly Father that caused a stir amongst his contemporaries and led his followers to rethink the meaning of godhead, of Jesus’ relationship to the God of Israel, and the very nature of being itself (if you want a short course in Greek metaphysics and the really illuminating nature of Christian faith, let me know and I will recommend a great book; you won’t be able it put it down because it will not let you wake up!).
My point is not to leave you snowed under with deep, long or hard ideas. But it is easy, when we do not think carefully about our faith to begin to live sloppily about our relationship with the God whom we have lost track of.
And so, we worship God in a community of those who know him as Father, as the source of a relationship we call creation and redemption. We live our faith in such a Father by seeking at every turn to build up ties of love and mercy and trust and mutuality with everyone. We look, in all our prayers for ways to be with and for all those who are there with us and for us in the Church and in the World.
Next time, we will take a look at our faith in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord.
Really and truly yours and together with you,