Jesus began the most quoted prayer scripture with an amazing new reality for those who would pray to God. He begins with two powerful, life re-orienting words:
This idea is something that needs to be recaptured in this culture of Jesus as “personal Savior” and a “personal relationship with Jesus.” These ideas, born in the shadows of the so called French “Enlightenment,” enforce an inflated sense of individualism that is relatively new to human history and leads us away from our original interconnected design and our new nature as followers of Christ. Notice Jesus doesn’t tell His followers to pray “My Father” but “Our Father.” Why? Following God is a connected journey, not an individual one. Despite the cries of our sometimes lonely heart (and the song by The Roots) we don’t actually walk alone. I don’t merely mean that in the sense that God is with us but, I mean there are people – both locally and globally – that are with us as we follow Him. As we follow Him, we aren’t following Him as millions of individual, disconnected only children but together. The Christian faith is a faith of “We” not of “me.”
As Jesus points us to our connectedness, He immediately follows it up with the cause and center of our bond – “Father.” Some people will paint the unity of the Church as being centered on our central mission to “Go into all the world and make disciples” but that is secondary to the primary glue. Our bond is not centrally mission, our bond is centrally family. God is not primarily the Church’s Commander in Chief with orders to give to us in order to fulfill His mission. God is primarily our Father uniting us in a family bond that runs deeper than the O-negative blood running through our veins. God as Father shows He’s not just our purpose giver, our mission giver but our unifying life giver!
God is our Father and we are called to be united as family. We are not alone and we are not unloved. We are connected together as family in the Father. May we find encouragement in our race knowing that we are not running alone. Let us encourage, love, empower and engage one another as we run this race together not merely as my “play cousin” or by throwing around the cheap churchism of “Brother (insert name)” or “Sister (insert name)” but by valuing one another as genuine family bound by the Father. Our Father is not an absentee Father, He is present with us. Likewise, let us not be absentee family neglecting one another, ignoring one another or, even worse, being indifferent to one another but by being present, loving endearing family members enduring this race together.
Have you felt isolated in your faith walk? Who are you walking the walk with? How do you view others in the faith – as family or just familiar strangers?