"For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, 'Abba! Father!'" - Romans 8:15
I love this verse. It is theologically rich, but also emotionally touching.
Paul, writing to the churches in Rome, is encouraging his brothers and sisters in Christ not to fall back into former sins and the fear of being punished, but rather to trust simply in God's love and mercy as a child would his/her father.
Paul writes that the Holy Spirit, living now in those who have faith in Jesus as their Lord and Savior, confirms our adoption. Think about that word and the weight that it holds. Adoption. It means that God, our loving Father in Heaven, chose us to be His own children. This is a beautiful truth - we are the sons and daughters of the merciful and righteous Creator of the Universe.
My favorite part of the verse, though, is the single word, "Abba." It is a Hebrew word used to personally address a father. Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words says the following about its use in the verse above, " 'Abba' is the word framed by the lips of infants, and betokens unreasoning trust; 'father' expresses an intelligent apprehension of the relationship. The two together express the love and intelligent confidence of the child."
I love the word, "Abba," because it reminds me of our English words, "Daddy" or "Papa," also spoken by the lips of infants to call their father. Wrapped up in the two simple syllables of each of these words is all the emotion of an innocent child reaching out trustingly for his/her protector and provider. Paul even says that, by the Holy Spirit, we cry this calling to God the Father, like a child would.
Do you feel like God is a "Daddy" to you?
I understand that this question can be very difficult for some to answer. Some of you have had terrible experiences with your earthly fathers that have permanently scarred the concept of what a father is. But, I want to encourage you that God is not like your earthly father. For those who were blessed with loving earthly fathers, our Father in Heaven is even better.
But He's not just a "Father" to us. "Father" can sound somewhat harsh or formal. God is, of course, just and righteous and lofty; however, He is also a tender, caring "Abba" or "Daddy."
He comforts us in our hardship. He lights up our darkness. He disciplines us with consistency and gentleness. He gives us freedom from our enslaving sins, and the strength to obey Him through His Spirit.
The night before Jesus died for our sins, he knelt down in the garden in total anguish and uttered these words, "Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will" (Mark 14:36).
Jesus was certainly praying to his "Father" who is in control and powerful and mighty. Jesus knew that he must go to the cross. But he was also praying to his "Abba," his "Daddy" who is comforting and strengthening and tenderhearted. Was God the Father's response to rebuke Jesus and tell him to stand up and prepare himself for the terrible task ahead? No. God sent an angel to strengthen and comfort his struggling Son (Luke 22:43).
At the risk of being sacrilegious, try to imagine a scene with me. Close your mind's eye and imagine...what if you could curl up in God's arms? What if you could lay your head on God's shoulder? What if you could hear His magnificent voice saying to you right now, "Hush, little child...be still...I am here with you...shhh." Imagine the feeling of warmth. Imagine the feeling of safety and trust. Imagine the distinct feeling of belonging.
This "Daddy" is the God we worship. Truly, He loves us as His children. He has adopted us, chosen us as His own. Remember this today when your heartbeat starts to race and your mind begins to worry. His Spirit is within you, strengthening you to resist sinfulness and lean into His shoulder. Your Heavenly Father, your Daddy above, loves you dearly.
-written by Chase Cotten, Media Director @ IDES