Due to its frequent use, the image of God as Father risks reducing our understanding of the divine. It can crowd out maternal images and limit the pronouns we use for God, for instance. Depending on our family, comparing God to our dads may or may not be helpful.
And yet, Jesus uses this language frequently and taught his disciples to pray “Our Father in heaven…”
I therefore strive to take an expansive view of this image of God. We may think of God as our Father in heaven, but we cannot reduce God to this one image. The Bible itself (as this devotional demonstrates) uses a diversity of images. I also worry this image pigeonholes God within a narrow vision of masculinity. There is more than one way to be a father after all.
Personally, there is new depth in this image because I became a parent this year. When I hold my newborn, I imagine the closeness between Jesus and the One he calls Father in John 17.
The strength of the Father image is this intimacy. Jesus opens this relationship to us. We are invited to stand alongside Jesus in his prayer and to address God with the boldness of a child addressing a loving parent.
Our Father in heaven, draw us closer to you in this season as we pray alongside Jesus, your Son and our Lord. Amen.
Rev. Andy Twiton, Trinity Lutheran in Madison, Member of the Synod Campus Ministry Oversight Team
After Jesus had spoken these words, he looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him.-John 17:1-2