When you look at the current state of the human family in today’s time, it is quite clear that the quality of parenting has declined. While there are still many examples to be seen of positive parenting styles, there are also examples of bad parenting. If you were to turn on your television, you would see news reports of child neglect and parents who have abused their children. Even as it relates to the quality of parenting, it seems that many children are being left behind to fend for themselves. One might believe that poor parenting outweighs that of positive parenting. However, to get a clearer view of what a parent/child relationship should be, we can look at God’s relationship with humanity.
In Romans 8, Paul takes a moment to explain the essence of the Parent/Child relationship that God desires to have with each of us. He says in verses 14-17 the following:
(NIV) “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”
Notice the key word, “Abba Father”. What does that phrase mean? The term “Abba” originates from the Aramaic or Hebrew language. It is a term of endearment that a child uses to express the fondness and even relationship of a child to their Father. So, when Paul says “And by him we cry, “Abba Father.” he means that our relationship with God becomes one of a parent to a child once we are born again in the Spirit. As Paul puts it, we are adopted into sonship with God after we are reborn through the acceptance of Jesus Christ.
The reason why it is important to view God in the context of He being your Heavenly Father and you being His child is because it is this type of relationship that is special. One can have a romantic relationship, and one can even have a friendship, but a parent/child relationship is unique in its own right. It is the type of relationship that cultivates identity. For example, a child who has a loving Mother & Father usually finds themselves in a position of knowing who they are and they understand their identity as they grow.
The same is so concerning our relationship with God. It is because He is our Heavenly Father (upon receiving salvation), that we become aware of who He has made us to be. A child’s identity is tied to their parents because their traits and characteristics are based on the family lineage and origin. As Jesus explains to Nicodemus in John 3 verses 1-21, we must be born again. In that scripture, to be born again means to be reborn by the Spirit or to undergo a conversion from a sinner into a follower of Christ.
The reason why rebirth is such an important concept is because it signifies a shedding of the old and embracing the new. However, the concept goes deeper because it then signifies being reborn into a new family with a new Father. The new family involves that of being grafted into the body of Christ with God becoming your new Father. So essentially, experiencing salvation is more than just a change in your lifestyle or even the name that you claim. It is a process of being adopted as a son or daughter of God.
When it comes to “religion”, the focus is based on behavioral changes and structure. Religion was not meant to encompass the very essence of a relationship because practicing religion eliminates active communication and intimacy with God. However, when we receive Christ, and we become apart of God’s family, we are then given an opportunity to have a relationship with God. Think of it as a Father to his son or daughter.
A son or daughter can have a familial relationship with their Father because the access has been granted based on being born into the family. So this means that a son can ask what he wishes of his Father, and he can spend time with his Father. That is what God desires from our lives. He wants an authentic and familial type of relationship with us. That is why Hebrews 4:15 says that we can approach God’s throne with confidence because if we are His children, then we can ask Him what we will, just as a child asks his/her Father what they desire. Of course, what we ask must line up with His will for our lives, but we can still ask confidently knowing that God’s will shall be done regardless of which way He answers us.
There is also the element of protection as it relates to God’s relationship with us. A loving parent will always see to it that their child is protected from anything inherently dangerous. God also desires to protect us as His creation and His children. This is why obedience unto God is paramount, because if we follow the commands that God has given to us, we put ourselves in a position to be protected from negative consequences. You can think of obedience unto God as a guardrail to protect you from yourself and from outside influences.
We live in a world that is rooted in a godless type of living, and yet the same individuals that reject God are the same persons who suffer from the consequences that come with disobedience. Part of it is that many do not understand the parent/child relationship that God wants us to have with Him. The other part of it is that our sin calls out to us, and we serve our flesh because we are subjected to sin rather than the Holy Spirit. However, God wants us to have a relationship with Him through Jesus Christ.
The ultimate model of a parent/child relationship is exemplified in God the Father. There may be many examples of positive parenting and successful parents for us to see. However, none of the parents that exist can surpass the parenting and love that God can lavish upon us. Do you have a relationship with God the Father? Is He the one that you can cry “Abba Father” to? If not, then you can have this relationship by accepting Jesus as your savior. By doing so, you will receive an inheritance that can only come from God the Father. He has many things and words of wisdom to impart unto you. Accept Christ, and become a part of God’s family and His body of believers.