Whose Father?

As a young boy I learned what may be the most famous prayer in all the world. It starts out “Our Father who art in heaven.” Only decades later did it hit me … whose father?

The walk of faith in the Western world is taught as a very private experience. We’re told to have a personal relationship with Jesus, to remain silent in church meetings, to receive divine guidance on an individual basis. A popular Christian campfire song even says “Though none go with me, still I will follow.”

While there may be some value at rare moments in this sense of rugged spiritual individualism, I think it misses the mark in the big picture. The times I’ve been closest to God have been in the context of true, honest, transparent relationships with others. There I find ways to express and receive His love, acceptance, and – when I need it – His correction as well.

I think there’s a deep, subtle message in that prayer I learned as a child. He’s “our” father … as in not just “my” father, but that of a community of people. And for some reason, I really like it that way.


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