Hey, y’all. I’ll warn you ahead of time: I did NOT plan what I was going to say going into this. So let’s get started!
I wanted to talk to y’all about a familiar term associated with God. In case you couldn’t tell, this term is “abba”. And if you’ve had a similar experience to me, you’ve always (or almost always) heard it joined to another word: father. Abba-father. Sound familiar now? But, what does abba mean? Why is it always connected to father? Call me crazy, but I had never really thought much of it until recently. But then I was reading a book which defined the abba in abba-father for me, and I have to say I like I better as a stand-alone term than as connected to father.
Abba means Daddy
It means daddy. So when people say “Abba-father”, they’re really saying “Daddy-father”. But do people say it like they mean it? And this is why I like abba better on it’s own. When we call God Abba, we are calling him Daddy. Think about the connotations the term daddy carries for a moment. And you don’t even necessarily have to think about your earthly father (I understand that some people’s fathers don’t inspire warm fuzzy feelings; if that’s the case, DON’T think of your earthly father). I am lucky enough to have a God-fearing father that I CAN think about. I still call him daddy sometimes, and I’m in college and have been living away from home in dorms during the school year for two years before this (remember, I went to a residential high school). When I hear the term ‘daddy’, I think about a little kid, girl or boy, running to their daddy for comfort or shrieking in delight when he walks in the front door. I picture this picture-perfect image of unconditional pure love. Now, my dad does a great job at unconditional love, but he isn’t perfect. He messes up. So he can’t actually live up to this image in my head. But you know what the cool thing is? God can! God IS perfect, so he is the only one who can not only live up to this image in my head but SURPASS it! Isn’t that amazing?
Now, you may be saying that you still don’t understand why I prefer abba on its own. Let me present another image to you. Instead of just shrieking daddy, imagine if the child I pictured in the scene above shrieked daddy-father! If anybody else was there they’d probably get a lot of weird looks. Why? Because the two terms are necessarily different. Here’s how bing defined them: Abba – an intimate term for God as father. Father – A man in relation to his natural child or children. Do you see the difference? Father isn’t an intimate term at all. I don’t call my dad father unless I do so sarcastically. In fact, the most likely image to pop into my head is that of a sad lonely rich kid desperate for his dad’s attention but who has to be strict and formal with his father instead. God, of course, is not like that at all. And there is use in the term father too; we are God’s children and since we have been covered in the blood of Christ we can be considered natural children, heirs to the throne WITH Jesus. However, I think putting the two terms together dilutes the image of both terms. Recalling God as Abba makes me think of someone I can go to when I’m excited, or hurt, or scared or even just want comfort and peace. Recalling God as Father makes me think of someone ready to fight, a stalwart protector but not necessarily the person to go to to play wrestle or cuddle. Neither term is bad, and using both together isn’t bad. I prefer to use them separately because of the two different images. And quite frankly, right now I am wrestling far more with myself than with outside forces. Right now, I need my abba more than my protector.
However! I have gone on far too long about my preference in terms. What I really wanted to focus on today (even though I have done a poor job of it) is the character revealed of God that we get to call him daddy. Calling God daddy reveals his unconditional love. It reveals his desire to protect (if you’ve ever seen a dad leap into action to protect his child you’ll understand my meaning behind that). It also reveals his closeness, which is something I struggle with. I find it difficult to feel as though God is right there with me in the warm, caring roles the bible says he is. Envisioning God as daddy, though, helps me see him as the caring daddy/dad/father he is. And understanding just how close he is, and just how much he loves you, is so very, very important in fighting lies and temptations.
I’ll leave off here. But please – think about God in his role as daddy. Think about what that means, and what that reveals about his character. Think about what that means in how he thinks of you!