I have six grandkids. (I know, I look much too young to have grandchildren….but that is beside my point!) And, I love these kids.
This summer Jennie and I took three of the older boys camping. It was great time, even though I forgot the hotdogs (a terrible crisis) and had to drive ten miles to find a store that sold them. In the meantime, my grandsons made do with what they had and decided to roast Cheetos over the fire! My youngest two grandsons had never been away from a city at night, and were transfixed by the stars.
I also have two granddaughters who I’m crazy about. Cata, my nine-month-old granddaughter, is just starting to figure me out. She is realizing that sometimes she doesn’t have to cry when she sees me. My nearly two-year-old Emelyn is much better about recognizing my value, although she prefers her grandmother to me. She at least can point at me and say, “Papa,” in the same way she can point to the center of her face and say “nose.”
I never planned to be called “Papa” by any of my grandchildren. It something that their parents taught them, I guess. And while “Dearest Grandfather” is more formal and respectful, I’ll take “Papa” because it is more intimate and personal. Above all, I want to have an intimate and personal relationship with my grandchildren.
This reminds me that when Jesus taught his disciples to pray, he didn’t use the expected religious expressions of the day. The Jews taught that God was aloof and far off. They would use formal titles to address him like El Shaddai (“Mighty God”), Adone ha Adonim (“Lord of Lords”), or El Elyon (“Most High God”). However, Jesus used a simple title, a term every child knew. In the slang of the day, a child would call his earthly daddy, “Abba.” This intimate term is never used of God in the Old Testament. Nevertheless, Jesus chose this term to use in his prayers, and he taught his disciples to think of and address God as “Father.”
Why did he do this? Because more important than getting a title right, is understanding the intimate and personal relationship that God wants with his children. You can always address God in some formal and theologically correct term. However, Jesus was stressing the bonding of our Heavenly Father to us. God loves us, and we are to love him.
Early Christians were known in part for addressing God in such an intimate way. While it rankled the Jews, it revealed that Christians thought that Jesus made God approachable and personal. No longer was God to be viewed as a deity that was distant and far off….but he was to be experienced as someone who knows us yet cares and wants us.
We always must understand, as we walk through life, that our Heavenly Father loves us and wants an intimate and personal relationship with us.
Even when we forget the hotdogs.
In the Lamb,