Why is it important that we start the discussion of God’s mother-love with an understanding of the Trinity? Because God IS love only in the community of His person. This love births a family to participate in His communal love. Mothers know a little something about loving others.
Metaphors of God
Jesus uses parables to describe his intimate knowledge of the invisible God. His parable of the “prodigal son” introduces one of the most important metaphors of God. God as Father is so pivotal to Jesus that he uses it to title the person of God that remains mysterious and unseen to His creation. The most important information about God as Father is that He is UNLIKE ANY FATHER this world has ever known. Jesus breaks all stereotypes of fathers in the ancient world by portraying a father who acts more like a mother than a father. In what way? Social norms of that time required fathers to be the disciplinarian, firm and aloof. Yet Jesus describes his father as tender, compassionate, heartfelt, quick to overlook wrongs, not concerned with discipline but with hugs and kisses (Luke 15:20).
Father is a strong metaphor for God, but there are many others. Rock, bread, water, fire, baby sheep, bird. Jesus likened himself to a mother hen in Luke 13:34. His imagery mirrors an Old Testament metaphor of God in Deut 32:11 as a mother bird guarding and feeding her young.
God has no gender.
If you are unused to hearing God described in feminine imagery, it might startle you. Remember, God is Spirit, not gendered (John 4:24). In Hosea and Numbers, God says specifically that he is God and not a man (Num 23:19, Hos 11:9). So we mustn’t take any gendered imagery or metaphor too far. The Father title is modified as Heavenly to distinguish it from a too literal a meaning. We must be careful and on guard not to make God after our own image as male or female.
God is three persons, not one person acting in three different roles; such as the role of begetter or begotten. God is three persons, not one person acting in different capacities; such as judge or advocate or helper. God is three persons, one of whom took the form of a male human, but in whom all the fullness of diety dwelled. God is three persons who are more than unified – they are perfect oneness. Yet, because He is three persons, He can interact with each other – they glorify each other, they praise each other, they LOVE each other.
It is this Love amongst the godhead that birthed a family…something we understand as a uniquely mother experience.
Next up: Part 4 explains the motherly metaphors of God.
References: Wade Burleson. Missing Metaphors Makes Men Mad. http://www.wadeburleson.org/2012/12/missing-metaphors-makes-men-mad.html