Who Do You Call Father?

Jun 16th, 2013

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Who Do You Call Father?

Reminders that Father’s Day is almost here can be found everywhere. At the grocery, the mall, ads on the radio, and even highway billboards have suggestions to aide us in choosing an ideal gift for dad. But, the truth is, fathers day isn’t an ideal holiday for some (many) people. I used to be one of those people.

Every year when the month of June came I’d count down the days till the weekend passed. While others celebrated the blessing they had in great Fathers, I suffered silently with the pain my dad had caused me. Every year in the grocery store I’d pass the card aisles littered with woman picking up card after card, choosing the perfect message for dad. Every year, I felt that same emptiness– that same longing for what I was sure I would never get the privilege of experiencing.

I grew up in the church and had always heard of God referred to with many names: King of Kings, Savior, Jesus, Lord, Almighty God, Creator, and Father God to name a few. All of these names were frequently used in praise songs and prayer, and respectively all but one conjured up the same image of God in my head. Worthy to be worshipped and full of immeasurable power, which are, quite obviously inherent to the core of who God is. But, “Father” never seemed to fit with the other names because it implied an intimacy that didn’t seem reasonable for such a powerful deity.

For many years, I ignored the reference of God as father. I had a detestable relationship with my earthly father, so referring to God in similar terms was actually more painful then helpful. Though I had surrendered my life to God, I struggled with feeling close to Him. I understood the power and holiness of God, but couldn’t understand the way God wanted to relate to me personally. I had intentionally chosen to guard my heart and avoid entertaining the persistent longings for fatherly love.

One day I stumbled upon a verse that rocked my world spiritually.

Matthew 23:9

And do not call anyone on earth “father.” For you have one father, and He is in heaven. 

When I read this passage and began to meditate on it, I realized how hard my heart had become. This verse is shocking and possibly even angering if taken literally. But, I think the point is, God intends to shatter our view of fathers (even great ones) when we realize the privilege of our relationship with Him. The presence of sin in our world has tainted every relationship; no child has the perfect father. Each of us have grown up with some disappointing memories of dad and some longings or needs that weren’t met. Though for some these shortcomings were minimal, for others, they were monumental.

When God says to call him “abba father” He is literally telling us to call Him “daddy.” The intimacy described in this term is intentional. God wants us to know Him not just as our creator or originator, but more importantly, as a perfect dad. It is God who treasures us and cherishes us for our uniqueness more then any other. He wants us to realize it is He who provides, protects and leads freely.

The intensified longing little girls have for a daddy was placed in each of us by our perfect father. It’s meant to draw us to Him closely in a relationship that is pure and a love that is relentless and unconditional.

Maybe it’s taken you a while to embrace God as father because of what that word means to you, but, the truth is, God is nothing like an earthly dad. God doesn’t give you attention when you behave, and avoid you during meltdowns. You have his undivided attention every minute of the day! God isn’t proud of you when you bring home all A’s on a report card and disappointed when your achievements are just “average.” He loves you infinitely just the way you are. He doesn’t have a prefabricated list of what you must be in life, what hobby you must pursue, or career path you must take to earn His approval. The truth is, you are securely His daughter when you make great decisions and securely His when you could have made better ones. 

It’s simple, God’s love for us is our birthright. God loves you and I as daughters not because of what we do, but because of who we are. Romans 8:15-17 tells us that God chose us to be his heirs, we are adopted as daughters of the king! As I studied the passages about God being our father I realized this truth I’d like to challenge you with.  Though as a believer you are securely His, you must choose to enjoy the privilege of calling Him “abba father.” So today, whether you had an amazing dad or a lousy one, remember you have a PERFECT FATHER.


  1. Sharon June 16, 2013 at 10:22 pm

    Thank you for your thoughts on fathers. You’re right, many of us are unable to celebrate our earthly fathers. Thank you for reminding us who our true Father really is.

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