Claiming God as Our Father

By Tom Gilson Published on July 23, 2017

I knew a would-be cult leader once. His name was John. His son Michael and I had met each other at the local community college, where Michael had told me he was interested in learning about Jesus Christ. We met at a coffee shop. John came along with him.

John’s beliefs were unique. He used the Bible to reject all of Christianity. All of it. Four, maybe five other people in the world really understood the truth, he said. (I call him a “would-be” cult leader because he lacked one crucial ingredient: followers.)

John and I met four or five times. Our conversations were interesting, to say the least. I noticed how he would speak of “my Father.” He would say, “My Father has told me this” or “My Father loves me so much.”

I mentioned I’d noticed that, and asked him, “Who would you say used that phrase in the Bible?”

“The early Christians called Him that,” he answered. “The apostles did, too. They all called God ‘my Father.’”

“No, they didn’t,” I answered. “Only Jesus called him ‘My Father.’ For everyone else, God was either ‘the Father’ or ‘our Father.’”

God’s Family is Only for Those Who Follow Jesus

It’s true. No one in the Bible but Jesus ever called God “My Father.” John’s mistake there — one of the many he made! — was to think he had a special, individual claim on the Father. He didn’t. No one does.

No one but Jesus, that is. His relationship with the Father was and is unique. He is the only Person ever to be God’s Son by nature of who He is and always has been.

When believers live like one family, the witness to God’s love and truth can be powerful.

So He has a very special claim on the Father, yet He gladly shares it — to those who will have it. “He came to his own, and his own people received him not. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God.” (John 1:11-12)

God is everyone’s Creator, but membership in His family is specifically for believers following Jesus. Which only makes sense: Why should anyone even want to be called a son or daughter, brother or sister, in a family centered around the One eternal Son they don’t believe in?

We’re a Family

When a person decides to believe, he becomes a member of God’s family, not by birth, but by adoption (Romans 8:14-17). We’re all equal in that. Yes, we can certainly claim God as Father. It’s a shared claim, though. We’re all family.

And when believers live like members of one family, the witness to God’s love and truth can be very powerful. Jesus prayed in John 17:21-23,

That they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. The glory which thou hast given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and thou in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that thou hast sent me and hast loved them even as thou hast loved me. 

John missed out on a lot with his strange beliefs. One of his greatest losses was his separating himself from the family of God.

May all God’s people give up any special claim on the Father, and live like brothers and sisters.

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