Can you recall the awkward feeling when someone whom you addressed formally asked you to call them by their given name?
So instead of Dr. Smith or Mrs. Jones, you anxiously switched to, Bob, while Mrs. Jones became, Chrisy. In a way, this familiarity almost felt like disrespect, and in the case of an older person, or a work superior, it seemed as though you were elevating yourself unjustly to their level.
How does it make you feel that God prefers to be called, “Father?” While He goes by lots of monikers—Yahweh, Elohim, King of kings, Lord of lords, Savior, Jehovah—He asks that we call Him, Father.
Actually, what He wishes to be called is to the western mind even more familiar than “father.” The Spirit—whom He has given us—cries out within us and addresses God as, “Abba” (Gal. 4:6). Translated, this renders His name of preference to be something like, “daddy” or “papa.”
I wrote the book, Grace in Ungracious Places, a few years ago. The book has not sold well, and interestingly, as I have talked with people who did not like the book, they express discomfort with the fact that each chapter ends with a prayer that concludes, “Thanks, Papa.” Even though I attempt to put the reader at ease with this in the Introduction, this salutation is uncomfortable enough that the majority of readers have put the book down.
I was counseled to change my book and address God more formally. Of course, I want my book to do well, and for a time period this counsel held sway in my mind. But then I thought about what God wanted, and His preference seemed clear to me: He wishes to be called “Abba” and prefers “Father” to his more formal titles.
I wonder why it is that when we see in black and white what God desires we still hold to our preference? God doesn’t strike too many of us with lightning bolts over our recalcitrance, which speaks volumes about His self-restraint, but in the same vein, our reluctance speaks volumes regarding our limited belief.
But we are talking about God, here. Isn't He due deferential address?
That discussion is in part 2.