KEEPING THE FAITH: ‘Our Father’

Published: Thursday, June 12, 2014 at 09:14 AM.

In fact, to introduce God as “Father” to some folks isn’t helpful; it is detrimental, as the word “Father” has too much baggage attached to it. This isn’t an attack on God’s parenthood. It is an acknowledgment that some people struggle with the image of divine parent, because they have no healthy model with which to compare it.

Too many people have had lousy, abusive fathers. Too many have been harmed, raped, hated, or abandoned by their fathers. Too many have problems with men — men who have used and maltreated them with such intensity, that to begin a prayer “Our Father” creates an emotional and spiritual tailspin before they even get started.

What comes to their minds when they think about God is not a beneficent image. And while they can speak of God as “Creator,” “Lord,” even “Mother,” the idea of Father is associated with far too much pain to be useful. So let me be clear that this is a metaphor. It is a signpost pointing to something else, someone else; someone who is better to us than anyone else could be; someone who loves with an absolute love; someone who welcomes us into his arms without qualification or reservation.

So you might call on the Almighty using words like God, Yahweh, Jehovah, Father, Mother, Parent, Papa, Protector, Provider, or Guardian — even Uncle Charlie or Aunt Lucille — whatever word is most associated with love, trust, welcome, and safety. Call God what you will; but call on him (or her). You will be welcomed, always.

Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, pastor, and author. His newest book is “The Gospel According to Waffle House.” You can read more at www.ronniemcbrayer.me.



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