In a previous post I introduced the book by British pastor J.B. Phillips “Your God Is Too Small.” For the next several weeks on Tuesdays I will highlight one of the false views of God explained in Phillips’ book. This week’s category is the Parental Hangover:
But surely, it may be objected, Christ Himself taught us to regard God as a Father. Are we to reject His own analogy? Of course not, so long as we remember that it IS an analogy. When Christ taught His disciples to regard God as their Father in Heaven He did not mean that their idea of God must necessarily be based upon their ideas of their own fathers. For all we know there may have been many of His hearers whose fathers were unjust, tyrannical, stupid, conceited, feckless, or indulgent.
It is the RELATIONSHIP that Christ is stressing. The intimate love for, and interest in, his son possessed by a good earthly father represents to men a relationship that they can understand, even if they themselves are fatherless! The same sort of relationship, Christ is saying, can be reliably reckoned upon by man in his dealings with God.
To have a God, then, who is as much, or more, our superior than we are the superior of an infant child crawling on the hearthrug, is not to hold a childish concept of God, but rather the reverse. It is only when we limit the mind’s stirrings after its Maker by imposing upon it half-forgotten images of our own earthly parents, that we grow frustrated in spirit and wonder why for us the springs of worship and love do not flow. We must leave behind “parental hangover” if we are to find a “big enough” God.