These 2 Powerful Words Can Change Your Whole Life.
I get to hear my kids say those two little words almost every night before they go to bed. “Don’t forget to say your prayers,” I’ll say or “Come sit down so we can pray…” I’m their father and they are my children, but together with hands folded we say that we have one Heavenly Father together. The strangeness of my children and myself saying “Our Father,” is not lost on me.
For me, the word Dad is one of the most powerful words in my life; next to the words: Husband, Son, Friend, Pastor and most of all, Christian. These words are precious to me and not given or received lightly. They define who I am, the choices I’ll make and where I am going. These words, when taken seriously, have the power to change a human life and with that life, generations of lives to come.
These beginning words of the Lord’s Prayer are likely some of the most quoted words within recorded human history, said daily and weekly by over 2.4 Billion Christians now and by Christians for over 2,000 years. It seems strange, that together we with billions of different people, different languages, different skin colors, different cultures, different nations, vastly different political opinions, we all together, today, on any given Sunday and through the week, we all confess we have the same dad, we are his children and that we are all part of the same family, sharing the same spiritual blood.
These words are probably some of the most scandalous words that can be spoken, because suddenly there is now a reality that is greater than language, race or politics, that makes strangers across the world and right in our pews, no longer strangers, but family.
But how can we say these words, Our Father, honestly and truthfully, confessing that the reality behind them has such power as to connect billions of strangers as family? Because Father and Dad are intimate terms, not thrown around lightly, they mean something. Like a biological father is not the same as a Father who is there day in and day out with the kids. Like Husband, these are words given only in a relationship.
Maybe we can’t say these words, Our Father, honestly, if…
1. If there is no God, then all of the thousands of parameters needed for complex life to exist, each one that had to be so finely tuned as to have the accuracy of a grain of flour in a cake ten times the mass of the Sun, if all this happened by accident, then there is no god, then human life has no meaning just as existence has no meaning, all going to nothing. No morality, no love, no reason to exist, no Father in Heaven. Many in our world live like this.
or 2. if there is a God, then God brought all of these things into existence for life to exist, but God is completely alien to any of us, something utterly different; the creator and we are the created. That is like a biological father but not a dad. Trying to know this God would be like trying to fly out of our galaxy and we only just made it to our moon. We would have no business calling God, Father. WE could call God the Infinite, the Unmoved Mover, Spirit in the Sky, the Great Intellect and all of it would really have the same value to it, because it would all be coming out of or own heads and what we think God is like.
But there is no way to go any farther than that. God is God and we are not. You can try the whole naval gazing approach and while you might find some insights and belly button lint you will not find God because God is not in your naval or in you for that matter. You can live out in the woods and worship God through the beauty of creation and see the works of His hands but that will only get you so far. You can write poetry about what you think God is like or lead radical terrorist acts and kill people because your God is just as crazy as you are. But none of that is really God nor can we really know this God that is completely different from us, much less call this mysterious, infinite being something so personal and intimate as Father. That would be like my daughter going up to a stranger on the street and saying, “Hey dad, what’s for lunch?”
As a pastor, one of the things I enjoy most about what I do is spending time with my families in their homes. They really know how to cook! But also, it’s because I know that the title Pastor, can put a distance between us. Often it is one that is shown out of respect for the office that a pastor holds and sometimes it’s just the difference between that person up there and us down here. I know I always felt that way about my pastors, there was always this distance. Until I met a pastor who would become my mentor. He invited me to get together with him over lunch and he shared with me some of his life story. This opened the door not only for me to feel more open about sharing my own life with him but for him to work more personally in my life and help shape me on my road to being a pastor.
2,000 years ago, when the fullness of time was complete, just as God had promised He would do, through the prophets of old and the ancient Scriptures, God invited humanity out for lunch. God sat and talked with humanity, showed his nature in the abundance of fish and loaves, showed his care in miracles and healing, showed himself as creator of all when calming the storm and king of all when expelling the evil spirits. God showed some of the most intimate parts of who He is, when God shared that He is One but He is Three Persons in a community of eternal, perfect love. God opened up himself to die on a cross to give us His love and God rose from the dead not only to confirm all that He said was true but to give that new life to us.
God said, look, you haven’t always recognized all I’ve done for you and you haven’t lived like you know me, but here I am, always have been, never left you, given everything for you, you are my kid. Call me Dad.
That changes everything. Not only is there a God who brought all things into existence and is utterly different from everything else—but 3, we can know this unknowable God because the biggest surprise of all is that to know God means to know Jesus, because Jesus is God and taught us to call upon God as Father.
Because Dad opened himself up to us like this, that opens the door and works power in our lives so that in faith (that is a loving relationship with Him) God changes who we are, we are now sons and daughters of God. That defines us, how we live, guides our choices and leads us to where we will live eternally, with our Dad both now and forever.
Our Father, these 2 powerful words change everything.