“Define yourself radically as one beloved by God. This is the true self. Every other identity is illusion.” -Brennan Manning
There are many reasons why the Christian Faith quickly took the world by storm and soon became the largest religion, the only one without a regional or cultural identity. One reason is the way Jesus taught his disciples to address God “Our Father in Heaven.” Christ set the precedent of calling God, Abba, which was the term for Daddy. In all the centuries and all the empires leading up to the time of Christ, pagans had known their gods by many names, but never as Daddy. Almost universally, the ancients offered sacrifices to appease the gods, not out of any sense of love or affection. The gods cared about nations, not individuals. And pagans never imagined themselves sitting a some divine figure’s lap; they wanted the gods off their backs.
Then Jesus broke all the rules. He explained that the Most High God, the only true God, cares about individual men and women. He encourages us to call upon him in prayer. He even knows what we need before we ask. Accepting that amazing fact, we are suddenly able to realize that God loves us so much he actually wants to hear from us. Did you catch that? The God who already knows everything doesn’t need to hear from us. He wants to hear from us.
The Christian Faith is often overlooked because it values the human soul in a sensuous culture where people fixate on the shapely body. We lurch hither and yon like those now familiar zombies from Night of the Living Dead. Our bodies are decaying day by day, but in this materialistic culture they seem to be all we have! We check our watches every hour and our Smart Phones every five minutes, but we never check the condition of our souls. Here’s the rub: your soul doesn’t die but it can be twisted and tortured. For some of us, that all happened when we were kids.
Maybe your earthly parents neglected you because of ambitions or adolescent yearnings never satisfied. Or maybe they failed you because they, too, were so damaged they had nothing of substance to offer you. Or maybe you suffered at the hands of some nameless adult much bigger than you; some fractured monster who made you the object of his boundless lust, his shameless violence.
Here’s one of the overlooked truths of the Gospel: when Jesus Christ comes in to take care of your sins, he also removes of the toxins from your heart, even the ones stored there by other people. Jesus is powerful enough to help you with the rage, the shame, the guilt, the fear. He will lead you to the Heavenly Father who may very well have nothing in common with your earthly parent- just a title. The title may be the same, but his address is very different, and he has a different approach to parenting.
The Eternal God has the time to hear you and the power to heal you. Recognize your “father hunger,” and run to Him. Read Psalm 51 aloud and talk to the Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God. If you have a friend who still carries the baggage of a shameful, agonizing childhood, send him or her this link. When the Heavenly Father embraces lost souls, he does wonders for broken hearts.
Lift up the Cross!