Rev. Vakaroto Ngaro: Our relationship with God

Friday September 04, 2020 Written by Rev. Vakaroto Ngaro, Ekalesia Avarua Published in Church Talk
Praying is a way to stay connected to God. 20090305 Praying is a way to stay connected to God. 20090305

OPINION: Jesus boldly assumed a relationship to God that was thought to be highly irreverent or blasphemous by most of his contemporaries.

 Our prayerful life is the key privilege of adoption we enjoy now. (Adoption is defined as admission of a believer into the family of God).

On the one hand, this is described as a consequence of our justification. “Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through Him we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand” (Rom.  5:1 2). Access means access to God. 

On the other hand, access is based on our adoption. Because of it we can approach God as “Father.” And only through the Spirit of adoption can we be assured that God is our Father and that He indeed hears our prayers. This is what Paul is speaking of in the verse quoted earlier.

“When we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ it is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” (Rom.  8:15 16). Our authority to call God “Father” goes back to Jesus Christ himself and to no less important a statement than the opening phrases of the Lord’s Prayer.  “Pray then like this: Our Father who art in heaven...” (Mt.  6:9).

It also answers the plea of the apostles when they requested their master to teach them how to pray. Christ opened with the most, simple declaration: “Our Father” This simple address affirmed a strong connection between them and the heavenly Father.

Positioning the Father in such respect reflects three things that are indisputable:

1. The title was new with Jesus.

2. Jesus always used this form of address in praying.

3. Jesus authorised his disciples to use the same word after him.

It is true, of course, that in one sense, the title father for God is as old as religion.  The famous Aristotle also said that the paternal rule over children is like that of a king over his subjects. In this case the word father means “Lord.”.

The point to notice, however, is that the address was always impersonal. In Greek thought, God was called father in the same sense that a king is called a father of his country.

The Old Testament uses the word father as a designation of God’s relationship to Israel, but even this is not personal.  In fact, it occurs only 14 times in the whole of the Old Testament.

Israel is called the “firstborn son” of God (Ex.  4:22).  David says, “As a father pities his children, so the LORD pities those who fear him” (Ps.  103:13).  Isaiah writes, “Yet, O LORD, thou art our Father” (Is.  64:8).  But in none of these passages does any individual Israelite address God directly as “my Father.”

In most of them, the point is that Israel has not lived up to the family relationship.  Thus, the Prophet Jeremiah reports the Lord as saying, “I thought how I would set you among my sons, and give you a pleasant land, a heritage most beauteous of all nations. And I thought you would call me, My Father, and would not turn from following me. Surely, as a faithless wife leaves her husband, so have you been faithless to me, O house of Israel, says the LORD.” (Jer.  3:19, 20).

In the time of Jesus, the distance between people and God seemed to be widening.  The names of God were increasingly withheld from public speech and prayers. This trend was completely overturned by Jesus. 

He always called God, Father, and this fact must have impressed itself in an extraordinary way upon the disciples. Not only do all four of the Gospels record that Jesus used this address, but they report that he did so in all his prayers.  The only exception enforces its own significance, the cry from the cross: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Mt.  27:46; Mark 15:34).  That prayer was wrung from Christ’s lips at the moment in which he was made sin for mankind and in which the relationship he had with his Father was temporarily broken. 

At all other times Jesus boldly assumed a relationship to God that was thought to be highly irreverent or blasphemous by most of his contemporaries.

Leave a comment