Metaphors for God – Part 1

Baby Jesus

About a month ago my daughter, Gemma, got to participate in the nativity skit during the 4:30 pm Christmas Eve service. She didn’t know she was playing a part. Since she’s only six months old, she just comes along for the ride.

But I, as her father, was so proud to see her in this role. It put a smile on my face to see her in church, re-enacting a story that has been so central to my life and faith.

I wonder— do you think this is how our heavenly father sees us?

Does God watch our lives with feelings of deep enjoyment and care, like a father watching his children grow up?

I think so. I believe understanding God as a parent can help us understand God more fully.

“I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”
-2 Corinthians 6:18

We are the sons and daughters of God! And God is our heavenly father.

For some, understanding God as father is a stumbling block. Not everyone was blessed to have a father in their lives that loved them. Some were raised in abusive households, or homes with no father figure at all.

But what if you had the perfect father?

What images, feelings and characteristics does the perfect father bring to mind?

Our earthly fathers, no matter how loving, can never be perfect— I know I’m not! But God as our heavenly father perfectly embodies what a father should be.

When I think of my own father, I think of someone who was kind, patient and approachable. Our heavenly father embodies perfectly these characteristics.

Here’s how the psalmist puts it:

“Father to the fatherless, defender of widows— this is God.”
-Psalm 68:5

What other attributes of a loving father describe God?

It is important to note that God has no gender. God is not literally a father. Instead, this is a metaphor the Bible uses to help us understand the divine. The Bible also uses the metaphor of God as mother.

In Matthew, Jesus describes himself as sharing the characteristics of a mother hen.

Jesus said—

“How often have I desired to gather Jerusalem’s children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings…”
-Matthew 22:37

A hen gathers her chicks under her wing to protect and comfort them. In this picture of God, we see a nurturing God who wants to comfort and protect us.

The Bible is full of touching, thought-provoking metaphors for God. Through this blog, we’ll explore several metaphors in the next couple of weeks.

This Sunday I will preach about the Purpose of Pain Part 2. We will also give Bibles to our 3rd grade students and celebrate communion. It will be a special Sunday!

See you on Sunday!

-Pastor David

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