I’ve been in campus ministry for 12 years and what’s abundantly clear to me is that the issues surrounding family brokenness and issues of pain and hurt and distorted relationships is growing exponentially.
Every year I see more and more family brokenness and every year I see more and more clearly how family issues seriously affect people’s experience and understanding of God.
In fact my guess is that tonight for seven out of ten of you, family dynamics has some sort of negative affect on your experience and understanding of God—even though most of you aren’t aware of it. If you’re here and you’re a Christian or you’re here and you’re not a Christian or you’re not sure what you think or what you believe—it doesn’t matter.
Family is such a critical place of formation and where our foundational understanding of how the world works is formed. And since none of us have the perfect family, all of us have some issues from our families that we need to work through in order to have a healthy and right understanding of God and of the life of faith.
And so we're going to do a series of large group talks surrounding family and we’re starting off tonight with this whole concept of God as Father. The reality is that all of us have earthly fathers or father figures who have failed us. For some of us the pain and the depth of hurt and the amount of anger and bitterness that swirls around the idea of our earthly fathers is a major, major issue in our lives.
And so when we speak of God as father, there’s this whole package of emotions that come with the idea of father and for some of us our instant response is to push away, to push back against the whole idea of “Father.”
For some of us the title is unacceptable because of our own experience of "father"--whether that's a dad, a stepdad, a father-figure who failed us, or some combination of all of the above-- and for others of us the title is unacceptable because it seems pretty sexist. Why do we have to call God by a masculine title?
And so the question is why? Why would Christians insist on using this sexist name for God when nearly everyone’s got some baggage associated with it?
It seems that philosophically it doesn’t work because of the gender issues and pragmatically it’s got all this baggage, why not re-think this whole thing? Why do Christian insist on calling God Father?