Do not call anyone on earth your father,
because you have one Father, who is in heaven.
Confession time . . . Ancient European royalty fascinates me. In high school I read all kinds of historical fiction set during the times of King Henry VIII, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria. You can’t imagine my delight when I discovered I’m a descendant of the Stewarts of Scotland, and right now I’m watching TV reruns featuring the 15th century French Court.
Recently when I prayed, I addressed God as Lord. And even though it’s totally appropriate, it bothered me a bit. I realize all those nobles of ancient Europe were called lord. For some it was their proper title. I also know from history that many who used that title or referred to those above their station with “lord” didn’t really feel the respect the title would normally deserve. Most of those nobles forced the titles by creating fear or self-serving ambition. I wondered how often we do that to our Creator.
How many times do I use the titles and descriptions of God out of habit or to remind myself of my place rather than to truly revere the One who deserves more praise than I can imagine? I started to wonder if I should even call God “Lord” with the way the word has been abused throughout the ages, and as I prayed about it, God reminded me of the verse above.
Very seldom did God restrict the titles we give to humans. Jesus asked us to save only three, Teacher, probably for the Holy Spirit and Master, for the Messiah, and one He asked us to reserve for the One who made us. The surprising thing is it’s not a title of grandeur or majesty. When we think of this word, we’d place it far below Master and Teacher on the totem pole. It’s so common; it’s most babies’ first word . . . Father.
Jesus said, “Don’t call anyone on earth your father.” Matthew Henry suggested the Master meant Spiritual Father because of the context, and I believe he’s right. But I find it very telling that the One who can be called Omnipotent Sovereign, Creator of the Universe, Master of Nature and Most Holy Awesome Lord, specifically reserves one title for Himself . . . Father.
The One who commands the seasons and set the stars in place wants us to know Him as Father, in all the fullness that word contains. He could have reserved any title for Himself, but He wants us to know Him as the One who loves us more than Himself, the One who will defend us and lead us, teach and care.
Perhaps those words of Jesus are why the enemy has worked so hard throughout the years to destroy the image of what Father was meant to be. Earthly fathers have fallen so short, some more than others; they have redefined the beauty of our true Father’s Holy title. But God wants to take us back to the origin. He wants us to know the loving Creator who gave life to all. He will always be King, Lord, Creator, Omniscient Spirit, Ruler of the Universe and more, but to those who come to Him, His greatest desire is to be a loving Parent, something many have missed out on. The All Powerful Provider Ancient of Days wanted us to know His greatest desire is to be our true Abba, your Daddy, my Father.
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