Our Father who art in Heaven
by Peggy Pedersen
Children of God
Not long ago, we had a visit from one of my five step-children. Even though I did not give birth to these children, still I look for reflections of myself in them. I love them, and wish for their love. I long to share things in common with them—to be a real parent to them.
The visit made me think back to my own parents. How alien I must have seemed to them at times as I pursued interests completely different than their own, rebelled against their plans for me, and followed a different religious path.
As you read the Prophets, again and again you see how the God who made man from dust and breathed life into him continues to sustain and provide for His children throughout the Scriptures. He protects and blesses them, yearns for them to learn from Him, to love and respect Him, obey Him, reflect Him, and call Him Father. Instead, they—and we—rebel against Him. We give honour, thanksgiving and obedience to the Enemy. We worship idols of our own making. We fail to follow and reflect Him.
In Jeremiah, we read: “I said, ‘How I would set you among my sons, and give you a pleasant land, a heritage most beautiful of all nations,’ and I thought you would call me ‘My Father,’ and would not turn from following me” (3:19).
But we do not turn. God tells us in Hosea, “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and I called my son out of Egypt. But the more I called to them, the further they went from me. They have offered sacrifice to the Baals and set their offerings smoking before the idols. I myself taught Ephraim to walk, I took them in my arms; yet they have not understood that I was the one looking after them. I led them with reins of kindness, with leading-strings of love. I was like someone who lifts an infant close against his cheek; stooping down to him, I gave him his food” (11:1-4).
Created by God in His image, His image in us was marred by sin. By disobedience, we became children of Satan. Jesus said to those who rejected Him: “If God were your father, you would love me, since I have come here from God… You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires” (John 8:44).
We have not honoured our Heavenly Father or hallowed His Name, but have been sons and daughters of rebellion. We have sought independence from Him, have rejected His guidance, and in our self-will we have grieved both Him and brought grief upon ourselves. Some of us have even declared: “You are not my Father. I have no Father,” or “I do not need You. I can stand on my own two feet. I’ll choose my own way. Your ways are old and do not fit into modern life.”
Yet in His unfailing love, He continued to call: “Return, O faithless sons; I will heal your faithlessness” (Jeremiah 3:22). God sent His Only Begotten Son to restore us to His image, to restore our sonship. He brings us back to Himself, He forgives us, and in baptism, He gives us new birth. United to Christ, we are reconciled to God, our Father, and are His adopted children. “I will say to No-People-of-Mine, ‘You are my people,’ and he will answer, ‘You are my God.’” (Hosea 3:24). He puts His Spirit within us, and He conforms us to His image. He attributes the perfect obedience of His Son to us. We are His children, and the Spirit inside us bears witness to this: “Because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” (Galatians 4:6).
“Return, O faithless sons; I will heal your faithlessness.”
God now delights in us and calls us “friends” (John 15:15), and His Spirit makes us holy as He is holy. He Who is faithful, keeps us faithful, gives us a desire to please Him and obey Him. He brings forth the fruits of the Holy Spirit within us: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23).
Because of God’s patience with us, despite our grieving Him, we are given grace to have patience with our own children—to forgive them when they stray and do not reflect what we know God has called them to be. We entrust them unto Him. We too had grieved our dear Heavenly Father, but there is forgiveness and reconciliation in Christ. “Do not be afraid,” God assures us, “I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine” (Isaiah 43:1).
Peggy Pedersen is a writer in Victoria, B.C. where she is a member of Redeemer Lutheran Church.