Last night, around the dinner table, Susan and me and the boys were having a discussion. Apparently, sometimes when the boys need to get their mother’s attention, they refer to her as “Susan.” My oldest boy mentioned it, and he said it with a smile. I said to him “I’m glad you say that with a smile, because generally I wouldn’t want you calling your mother by her first name.” We talked about Frank Zappa’s children, and how they all apparently refer to their father as “Frank.”
I had a discussion about this with a guitar playing friend–a huge Zappa fan–who said it came from this idea in the ’70s that you treat your children as little adults, and so Frank trained his children to call him Frank. I was raised to never call my parents by their first name. My aunts and uncles were always “Aunt Ginny,” or “Uncle Roger.” Once in church, my Aunt Suz called me out because I told the congregation “If you have any questions, see Suzy Batty.” And she said “Aunt Suzy.” Even if I was just trying to be clear to those people to whom Aunt Suz isn’t their aunt, I was supposed to still call her “Aunt.”
I’ve taken this teaching one step further with my children. I’ve explained it to them like this: “There are three people in the entire world who get to call me “Dad.” Three. And you’re one of them. Anyone can call me ‘Bill.’ To you, I’m ‘Dad.’ Don’t take that lightly. Instead, be glad.”
Take a look at Luke 11. The disciples ask Jesus “Teach us to pray.” And then he says to them, “When you pray, say ‘Father, who art in heaven’…” (Emphasis mine.) Jesus doesn’t say “When I pray, I pray ‘Father.'” No, He tells them “When you pray, call Him Father.” Of all the names God could insist we call Him, He wants to be called “Father.” He doesn’t ask to be called Lord, or LORD, or King, or God, or Master, or any of those things. And He could rightly demand that we address Him as such. If I were to address the president, I’d call him “Mr. Obama,” or more likely “Mr. President.” If I would give the POTUS the respect he deserves, wouldn’t I offer the same to the God of the Universe? Of course. And yet, He doesn’t ask us for that. He deserves that, but instead He wants us to call him “Father.” The fullness of God’s glory is recognized through the Son. And the Son says “Call him Father.” How awesome!