If you were to open a Bible and start reading from the beginning, the first story you’d come across would be one of creation. You would read about the story of how God spoke the world into existence. You would read about God looking out over His creation and saying “it is good.” You would read about God making humans – male and female – in His own image. Christians call God “maker of heaven and earth” because that’s how we’re first introduced to God in Holy Scripture: by His actions. Not by His attributes or characteristics or His moral demands, but by His gracious, loving act of creation.
And God doesn’t simply make the world and then leave it be! He plants a garden, and sets a man in it to tend it and care for it. He tells this man and his wife that they are to have lordship over creation – not to inflict violence on creation, but to participate in the beautiful extension of the mind of God. The Creator loves His creation so much that He wants others to play in it, to witness its beauty, and to eat of its fruit. He wants His favorite creations (humans) to learn how to care for it and make it even more beautiful.
It is this desire to see a legacy carried on by others that also causes us to call God “father.” When we use this title, we’ve shifted from talking about God’s actions, to speaking about God’s relationship to humanity. This is a difficult reality for many to wrap our heads around because in this fallen world many fathers have failed. Maybe you’ve been hurt by your father. Or maybe, as a father, you have fallen short of your duties. It is for this reason, that Christians also profess belief in the forgiveness of sins — a forgiveness that work to mend even the most shattered of human relationships.
But when Christians call God “father” we are not saying “God is like a father,” but actually the opposite: when the God of the Bible is kept in mind, fatherhood is demonstrated by God for humans.
God, who creates mankind in His image, shows us what real fatherhood looks like.
God, who plants a garden and teaches His children how to care for it, shows us what real fatherhood looks like.
God, who wants the best for His children, and wants them to run away from the things that will harm them and kill them, shows us what real fatherhood looks like.
When Christians call God “father” we are making a claim about how He cares for us, and confessing that we must look to God to show us how earthly fathers are to act and love. When Christians say that we believe in God as “maker of heaven and earth,” we aren’t simply making a statement about the origins of the universe. We are speaking about a God who loves His creation. A God who wants to see beauty in the world, and wishes that His creatures (His children) would care for and preserve His creation.
Indeed, Christians believe in God…but we go on to say so much more.
If you’d like to find out more about the way Christians talk about God, come and hear our re-telling of the story every Sunday morning, 10:30 am at 780 Grassy Hill Road in Orange. You can get in touch with Pastor Benson by visiting www.zion-orange.com/contact.