You might remember this oft quoted statement from Arnold's Kindergarten Cop (which shockingly missed out on the Academy Award nominations). Long story short, Detective Arnold goes undercover as a kindergarten teacher in order to catch a drug dealer, whose son is in the class.
Growing up, my friends and I loved to quote this tidbit in our best-worst Schwarzenegger voices, placing him in a myriad of situations. My favorite? Just imagine Arnold strolling up to Jesus and asking, "Who is your daddy and what does he do?"
Now, forgive me the male dominated language here, but what if this is actually the most important question we have to ask and to answer? Who is the one who gave us life?
In the Lutheran tradition, we weekly pray the Lord's Prayer. It begins with "Our Father," and then goes on to explain the myriad of things that we ought to pray for, precisely because they are the ways God has promised to care for creation.
God is our parent, the one who gives us life, and we know God through God's actions. What does God do? God brings the kingdom to earth and accomplishes a divine will that makes this world like the heavenly realm. God gives us daily bread, forgives our sins, and empowers us to forgive with the same incomprehensible grace. God keeps us from temptations and delivers us from evil.
Now, despite all the hilarity around Arnold's question, Jesus answers precisely: This is my God the one who bore humanity in the womb of the earth, who reigns with compassion and justice, who feeds the hungry and forgives the sinful all in order to bring heaven's righteousness to humanity.
This question is so important because it is a reminder of identity, first of God's identity, and then our own. We know who God is by God's revelations, God's actions made visible to us. This question is vital not because we need a perfect answer, but because we must constantly be searching for who God is and where God is active in the world, and then mimicking those actions. As those created with the image of God, just as we are born with the likeness of our parents, we must live in a way that reflects that identity.
So the next time you watch Kindergarten Cop, or more importantly, pray the Lord's Prayer, remember that God is our father and mother, the parent that brings us life. Remember that, through the innumerable ways that God meets us in the world and the ways that God still works to redeem creation, we come to know who God is, and who God calls us to be.