You’ve perhaps heard it said that the Bible is not a rule book, but a love-letter which displays the heart of God for His people. As the Lord’s children, we can call Him ‘Abba’, which means ‘Daddy’ or ‘Papa’. When I was in Israel some years ago, I heard a little boy calling out “Abba, Abba”, as he ran towards his father, and it made me think of Galatians 4 and what a privilege it is that we can call God, our Daddy.
The lens through which we read this love letter can influence what we understand of the character of God. If for example we have grown up in a home with many rules but without deep relationships, we might think like a slave. We might focus more on the commands in the Bible than on the heart of the author and His intentions.
God didn’t call us to be slaves, but sons and daughters. A slave follows rules and obeys because of duty, without a relationship to his or her master. Children, in a secure loving home, obey because they feel loved, and will willingly (and sometimes unwillingly!) follow the rules or guidelines set out by a parent, because of the strength of that relationship. And even if that child ventures outside of the protective boundaries set out by a parent, a child who knows he or she is loved, and will be drawn back into the fold again, even if it takes time.
In Romans 2:4 we read that the Lord’s kindness leads us to repentance. The Greek word for kindness is ‘Chrestotetos’, and it has a richer meaning than just kindness. It also means gentleness, goodness and uprightness. The Greek word for repentance is ‘metanoia’ and means a change of mind and a change in the inner man. It is a precious thought that God does not browbeat us into repentance, but as a loving father, He gently uses cords of love, leading us by our free will choice to have a change of mind, but also, crucially, to experience a change in the inner man, in our hearts.
Psalm 63:3 states, ‘Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise You’ (NKJV). His loving kindness does give cause for rejoicing. It is so incredible, and we have not done anything to deserve it! He gives it freely as our heavenly Father, pouring out love on His children. But what if a dad symbolises, for some of us, a person who is harsh or angry? In that case, we may struggle to call God ‘Daddy’ and may view Him through the lens of a slave, rather than the lens of a beloved son or daughter.
As a slave, the Bible can feel like a book of rules, rather than a love letter from a father. This letter is from a Dad who so desperately wanted a relationship with you and me that He sacrificed that which was most precious to Him, His own son Jesus, making a way for us to be in relationship with Him. If you are struggling with seeing God as a good father, don’t lose heart. He knows and will gently draw you with His precious cords of love, as you reach out in faith to Him, in Jesus’ name.
Prayer: Dear heavenly Father, thank You for Your great love for me which does not let me go. Help me to read Your word through the lens of a son or daughter, and not the lens of a slave. May I know, and experience in my heart, Your loving kindness as I read Your love letter. Help me to share the good news of Your love letter with others. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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