Thursday, June 25, 2009

Sunday Sermon Notes 6.21.09

God is...Our Abba

When you think of God...what do you think of? Is God an idea to you? A distant figure? A being hard to figure out? Depending on how you answer this question, you'll reveal the kind of relationship you have with this God. So it's helpful to think about how Jesus describes God - when Jesus thought of God, what did he think of?

Jesus thought of God as his "abba" - the Aramaic word for Father or Dad (Jesus spoke in Aramaic - the local dialect, but the New Testament translated his teachings into the Greek language). The Lord's Prayer teaches us to pray to God as "our Father", or our Abba. Do you ever think of God as your Abba, as your Dad?

When Jesus thought of God as his Abba, what did that mean for him? There is a really interesting story that reveals quite a bit about their relationship. Remember when Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane, getting ready to be unjustly arrested and put through a unfair trial? As Jesus prepares for his betrayal by one of his disciples, he groans out this prayer:
"Abba, Father,” he said,
“everything is possible for you.
Take this cup from me.
Yet not what I will, but what you will.”
Mark 14v36 [TNIV]

When Jesus thought of his Father, he thought of his Dad as one who was highly capable, of great ability, of infinite strength. Which is kind of like kids who think their dad can hit a home run every time they are up at the plate, or think they can pull a tree out of the ground, or always have an answer for the question "why?"

When Jesus thought of his Father, he thought of his Dad as one who have him tough assignments, who required difficult work, who put him through some hard experiences. Jesus respects his Dad, trusts his Dad, but he still doesn't like the task given to him by his Dad. Kind of like when our dad's force us to get up for school, or not quit the job, or pay for the damage to the car, or apologize to the neighbor for breaking their window.

When Jesus though of his Father, he thought of his Dad as one whom he would obey. Because he respected and trusted him, Jesus would take the next required step, even if he didn't want to, even if it felt impossible. Kind of like when we agree to the curfew our dad sets for us, when we agree to eat the asparagus and liver for dinner, when we agree to save some of our allowance instead of spending it on junk.

Jesus thought of his Dad as one who was highly capable, who had high expectations, and who expected to be obeyed. But Jesus also respected this Dad, trusted this Dad, clearly loved this Dad. And Jesus knew that his Dad loved him. And so it is for us: we have a Dad in Heaven who we can respect, trust, and love - and who loves us.

Clearly we view our Abba in Heaven through the lens of our abba on earth - our experiences with dad at home deeply shapes how we first think of Father God. Yet God the Father and Jesus the Son invite us to learn from and experience the Abba on his terms - and to let the resulting knowledge shape our perspective of our dad here on earth.

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