About Jesus Steve Sweetman
Shack" is a book many people are reading these days.
God appears as a woman who is called "papa" in the
book. In the early 1970's I
heard some people call God "daddy".
This concept comes from Romans 8:15 which reads, "for you
did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear,
but you received the spirit of sonship, and by Him, we cry, Abba,
word "Abba" is Aramaic and is used three times in the New
Testament. Jews addressed
God in their prayers as "Abba". The
word denotes God as being a loving and affectionate Father.
Our English words "papa", or "daddy", could
easily be a substitution for "Abba".
Both Romans 8:15, and Galatians 4:6, state that we no longer have
to "fear" God because He is "Abba", our loving
third place "Abba" appears is in Mark 14:36. Jesus
expressed the loving and caring nature of His Father when He cried out
for help to "Abba Father" while in the
"Abba" is followed by the word "Father" in these
verses. This came about when
Greek speaking Jews added the Greek word "Pater" (father)
assume Romans 8:15 is why the author of the Shack calls God
"papa". You might
be uncomfortable with this, but he does have some Biblical support.
That being said, a balancing word is needed.
I believe many Christians in the western world take God for
granted. We don't
"fear" Him as we should. Some
Christians treat God as if He were their buddy.
He is no man's buddy. He
is "Elohim", the All-powerful Master Creator of all there is
and ever will be. Our
imaginations cannot begin to fathom His existence, something the author
of the Shack agrees with, but doesn't seem to demonstrate in his book in
1:7 says that the "fear of the Lord is the beginning of
knowledge." If you
really want to know what is important, you had better fear God.
Fearing God is a
major theme in Proverbs and throughout Scripture.
I suggest that fearing God means being afraid of Him, not just
you remember when God told Abraham to sacrifice Isaac on the altar?
We've been taught that God was testing his faith, but that's
only partly true. When
Abraham pulled out his knife to slit Isaac's throat, God did not say,
"stop, now I know you trust me."
He said, stop, "now I know you fear God." (Genesis
22:12) The reason for the
test was to get Abraham to "fear God".
Once he feared God, he could then trust Him. I
suggest that to the degree you fear God is the degree you can trust Him.
people say fearing God is an Old Testament concept. It's
not for New Testament Christians because God is love.
That's not so. A
quick reading of the book of Revelation proves that God is still one to
be feared, and that's a New Testament book, written for New Testament
times. The God of Revelation
is all-powerful and just. He
expresses this power and justice in judgment.
"Abba Father", our loving Father, is therefore one to
be afraid of. How can this
be in light of Romans 8:15? Is
the Bible schizophrenic?
explain this way. The book
of Revelation opens with a portrayal of Jesus actually "being
God", having no beginning and no end. (Revelation 1:8)
The image of Jesus that follows is one of a powerful and
devastating man of war. John
is so overwhelmed by His presence that he falls to the ground as if he
were dead. John was afraid
of this all-powerful God
man, also known as the "Lion of the tribe of Judah". John wasn't afraid
of a "good old boy woman God" as seen in the Shack.
Revelation 5 we see John again. This time he is weeping uncontrollably
because he can't find anyone in the universe who can open a certain
important document. A
heavenly elder encourages John to stop weeping because the "Lion of
the tribe of
6 of the Shack opens with this statement.
"No matter what God's power may be, the first aspect of God
is never the absolute master, the Almighty.
It is that of the God who puts Himself on our human level and
limits Himself." Now
that's interesting. The
first aspect of God we see in the very beginning of the Bible is that of
the Almighty Master Creator. The
same aspect of God appears at the very end of the Bible.
I'm not discounting the loving nature of "Abba Father"
who did place Himself into the limitations of humanity.
In today's way too familiar "God is my buddy" world, we
need to balance "Abba" with "Almighty".
is both "Abba" and "Almighty".
Jesus is both "lion" and "lamb".
Both are to be feared, and both are to be loved.
John was afraid of Jesus in Revelation 1.
He probably wanted to escape His presence as quickly as possible,
yet there was no place he could hide.
The one he feared was the one he loved.
The one who caused him to fear, was the one who loved him.
you understand the Genesis account, you'll notice that there are two
revelations of God that are expressed in His names.
The first revelation of God seen in Genesis is expressed in His
name "Elohim", which denotes the Almighty Master Creator.
The second revelation of God seen in Genesis is expressed in His
name "Yahweh". Yahweh
means "I AM", as in , "I am the God of love and mercy
that is demonstrated in my covenantal promises."
There are the two paradoxical, but equally valid aspects of God.
God is both Elohim and Yahweh. You must not ignore one aspect of
God at the expense of the other. We shouldn't humanize
"Elohim", by thinking of Him as our buddy. If
He wants to humanize Himself, that's His choice, and He has done that in
Jesus. We don't do that for
Him. Elohim is still Elohim.
He is sovereign, and
He is almighty. You may call
Him "papa", as long as you understand your "papa" is
a consuming fire, and one to be feared as well as to be loved. (Hebrews
am absolutely convinced that we cannot begin to understand the love of
God without first understanding God being the Almighty Master Creator,
who is just, and demonstrates His justice in judgment.
So, the degree to which we can begin to understand the almighty
and sovereign nature of God, will be the degree to which we can
understand his love. If this
is true, then many of us don't understand the love of God as we say we
close with these words of Paul found in 2 Corinthians 5:12 and 14.
He said, "since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord,
we try to persuade men…" In
verse 14 he said, "God's love compels us…"
So there you have it. The paradoxical, but vital balance between
fear and love that drove Paul to serve Jesus.