Wednesday, August 10, 2011

YGITS: Parental Hangover

One thing God is not is our parents. This does not mean that our parents cannot show us God in truth by their actions, but they are not God. They are human, mistake-ridden people like the rest of us. Now God is called our “Heavenly Father,” but unlike our parents here on earth He is perfect, all-loving, and truly all-knowing. Furthermore, He is fully in control of what happens in this universe, and that control cannot be wrested away from Him by anyone or anything.

                The fact is that our view of our earthly parents (especially fathers), has a huge impact on our initial view of God Himself. If God is our Father, then He must obviously be somewhat like our parental father, any child would reasonably conclude.  This can be a beneficial thing if the child’s father is a moral man doing his best to walk the Christian life, and it can also be something that warps the child’s view of God if the father is someone who the child fears or feels continually guilty in front of. It can also be any myriad of views in between. This is not to be used as an excuse for viewing God one way or another, but it does provide a point of entry to be able to say “my earthly father was A or B, but my Heavenly Father is not like that.” In any case as we grow and mature our view of God must grow and mature as well. God is much too big to be confined to human terms and analogies, and we must accept that if we are to chase after a fuller view of God.

                It is true that Jesus used the image of God as our Heavenly Father, and we should accept that analogy, for it describes the relationship that He wants with us. But God does not want us to view Him as we view our earthly fathers, good or bad, for our entire lives. He is much, much more than that, and gives us much, much more love, attention, and devotion than even the best of fathers could manage. When we take away the limiters that restrain our view of God in human terms, we approach a view of God that is closer to how the Bible describes the Almighty King and Creator of All Things, and the love that causes Him to come down to our level and aid us and love us in our everyday lives. As Phillips puts it, “we must leave behind ‘parental hangover’ if we are to find a ‘big enough’ God.”

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