Rev. Peter Haugen
Our Lord Jesus said, “It is My Father who glorifies Me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God’; and you have not come to know Him, but I know Him; and if I say that I do not know Him, I shall be a liar like you, but I do know Him, and keep His word” (St. John 8:54-55). Jesus knows God. None better. And when He taught us to pray, He did so, saying, “Our Father who art in heaven” (St. Matthew 6:9).
Yet we are today being encouraged to avoid using the very same so-called “gendered language” for God that our Lord Jesus Himself used. Such “gendered language,” it is argued, limits God and prevents us from entering into fully intimate communion with Him. We know better than Jesus. May our gracious God and Father have mercy upon us as we walk this edge of the night, and may He forgive such blasphemy!
When we insist upon a god of our own making, we walk a dark and twisty road. When we refuse the God who has revealed Himself to us in our Lord Jesus Christ and in Holy Scripture, we deny that very Lord Jesus…who has Himself said, “Whoever shall deny Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven” (St. Matthew 10:33). When we claim for ourselves a deity who better fits our modern sensibilities, we have done nothing but craft for ourselves a molten calf, saying, “This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt” (Exodus 32:4). We may then have a god, but we most certainly do not have the living God.
This is no small thing. Our salvation, the eternal state of our very selves, body and soul, depends upon this. It is the living God of Adam and Noah and Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and David who has not left us to die in our sins, but who from the very beginning promised for us a Messiah, a Christ, a Savior, through whom He would restore to us life and peace and full, intimate communion with Himself. This is the God, the very One whom our Lord Jesus names as “the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” (St. Matthew 28:19), who has sent the Son to take upon Himself our flesh, to become a man, to become our Man, that He might live our life and die our death. If we deny Him, if we refuse to accept Him as He has revealed Himself to us in Holy Scripture, then “we are of all men most to be pitied” (1 Corinthians 15:19), for we are still lost in our sins.
Thanks be to God that He has come! Thanks be to God that He still calls us to come to Him and to receive from Him rest and peace! Thanks be to God that He is still patient, not desiring that any should perish! Thanks be to God that it is still today, that we still have opportunity to repent and believe!
Our God is bigger than us. He is bigger than our confused sensibilities. He is bigger than our fear to confess Him as He has revealed Himself to be. He is bigger than the pressures of the world around us that would seek to shame us into submission.
And so is His forgiveness. So is His forgiveness bigger than our sins, bigger than our failures, bigger than our need. Thanks be to God.
For nearly two millennia, the Church has confessed, “I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth.” Let us continue to join Her (Ephesians 5:25-27) in that bold confession. Let us continue to call upon the one true God, the only God, the living God, our God, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Let us drink deeply from His truth, from His Christ, from His Word, that we might ever increase the intimacy of our relationship – not with a false god of our own making, but with the living God and Father of us all. Amen.