Brittany Tedesco (CAM) / 18 NOV 2014 – Father. This is the word Jesus told His disciples to use when addressing God. In the Greek, the word father here is from a root word signifying “a nourisher, protector, upholder.”
That’s my God. I take comfort in the fact that He’s my father. And this very fact is what has sustained multitudes of former Muslims whose earthly fathers rejected them when they put their faith in Jesus Christ.
When Yassir Eric, a radical Muslim from Sudan who studied at a Quranic school, became a Christian, his father was disgusted with him. His family threw him out of their house. Later, he read in a newspaper about a funeral they’d held for him. They’d even gone so far as to bury an empty coffin.
“When I found that God is my father and I am his son, I found comfort,” Eric said. “My earthly father denounced me, but I found a bigger family. God’s truth carried me through.”
Christian Aid Mission supports a children’s home in Ukraine called Father’s House. It’s full of children who were orphaned, abandoned, or rejected. When they learn that God is a “father to the fatherless” (Psalm 68:5), it makes a difference in their lives.
Imagine if all references to God as Father were removed from our Bibles. What implications might that have for people?
Would you be surprised to learn that an Arabic version of the Bible has already been published in which God is never referred to as Father?
Why has this been done?
For one reason: common ground. Specifically, common ground with Muslims.
You see, the deity that Muslims worship is not a father. And he has no Son.
Some try to make a case, however, that Muslims and Christians worship the same God.
In a conversation one of my friends recently had with her Muslim client, the topic of faith came up. “Oh, we worship the same God,” the Muslim woman asserted. “We both come from the seed of Abraham.”
She was, of course, referring to the fact that Muslims trace their faith heritage back to Abraham’s son, Ishmael, whereas Jews and Christians trace their faith heritage back to Abraham’s son, Isaac. Therefore, both Muslims and Christians worship the same God that Abraham worshipped.
Proponents of the Insider Movement, which I mentioned in my last post, would agree with her.
But wait a minute. Just because someone can point to the correct God, doesn’t mean they know or worship Him.
The Jews pointed to Abraham as their ancestor and told Jesus, “The only Father we have is God himself” (John 8:39-41 NIV).
Of all people, surely the Jews were most qualified to claim they worship the one, true God of Abraham.
Well… Jesus didn’t think so.
“If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God,” Jesus tells them. “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires…whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God” (John 8:42, 44, 47).
Someone might tell me they worship the same God I do, but if this person begins to describe God as a green monster who jumps out at people on a street corner, I realize he doesn’t worship the same God I do.
How do Muslims describe God? They say he is unknowable. He doesn’t want to be known by his creation, nor can he be known by them. He does not make or keep covenants with his people. He is not a father and he has no Son. He provides no assurance of heaven except through jihad, martyrdom, or dying during the hajj (the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca). He is not loving. To the contrary, he is exacting and unmerciful. He watches to make sure you face toward Mecca during your ritual prayers (so you’d better keep a compass handy).
Is this the God I worship? No more than a green monster on a street corner.
My God is good, loving, faithful. He makes promises and keeps them. He is a personal God who longs to be known by His creation. Throughout history, he’s always communicated with His followers. He walked and talked with Adam and Eve in the garden. And when sin created a divide between Him and His beloved people, He sent His Son to atone for the sins of man so that we might be reconciled to Him. He is a Father. He is my Father.
Distinctions are exceedingly important.
The native missionaries supported by Christian Aid Mission are risking their lives to tell Muslims “that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world” (1 John 4:14). This is a God who isn’t like theirs…and that’s good news!
How can we downplay the very nature of God in the name of common ground? Here’s an idea, let’s portray Him accurately without shame for who He is: our Father which art in heaven.
Brittany Tedesco is the Assistant Africa Director at Christian Aid Mission.
Source: Christian Aid Mission