C.S. Lewis wrote in his Mere Christianity about a certain "pretense" wrapped up in daring to pray with such language. To call God one's Father is – to use his language – "putting yourself in the place of a son [or daughter] of God. To put it bluntly, you are dressing up as Christ."
His point is not to discourage either the language or the thought. It is to say that reflecting on the idea makes us realize how inadequate we are. How far short of the ideal we fall. How unlike the one true and authentic Son of God we are. So does the "pretense" equal hypocrisy? Should we be discouraged?
Absolutely not! The Son of God has ordered us to think and talk this way. His point is not to put us in a compromising position or to discourage us with our inadequacies. To the contrary, it is to encourage and to enable us.
Oh, there is one sense in which pretending is a bad thing. Pretending to be what one is not is dishonesty. But men and women who have cast our lot with Christ are children of God. Not by right but by grace. Not by our goodness but by his love. And part of the "good news" of the gospel is that God is not an accountant entering credits and debits on human lives.
God has come to us and redeemed us in Christ. What is left for us to do in our lives as his children is to move closer each day to living out the grace we have received. Our goal now is to live up to the gift we have been given.
Lewis insists that is the value of thinking of ourselves as sons and daughters to God and praying "Our Father." It is a healthy form of "Let's pretend!" Not hypocrisy, but heart-reorientation that leads to life-relocation. His illustration is that of someone who doesn't feel well and wants to be alone. Then someone comes to her desk or walks to his door. There is a smile. Pleasant words are exchanged. And you behave better than you really are at that moment.
Sure, the illustration is almost trivial, but you probably identify with it. And there is this flash of insight into why God calls us his children and why Jesus tells us to call his Father our Father. The make-believe of seeing ourselves as God has made us by his grace becomes part of the means to being something we have no right to claim on our own. We are his children.
And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!" (Galatians 4:6 NRS)
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