By Mike Edwards
I am convinced that God likes you. God isn’t pissed at you all the time for not abiding by God’s standards. God desperately seeks a personal relationship with us all. “Religious people sometimes speak of God as if he were just another human magistrate who seeks his own glory and requires obedience for its own sake…God wills for us the very thing we really want for ourselves, whether we know it or not…” [Thomas Talbott, The Inescapable Love Of God, p. 185]
What does the institutional church say?
I attended a lot of different churches growing up. It seems all God thinks about is our choices to sin. If you have any of my characteristics, God isn’t exactly in love with you all the time. But why would God be like that if earthly parents don’t stop loving their kid — they hate what sin is doing to the child; they don’t hate the kid. A relationship with God, rather than an emphasis on rules and obedience, is our necessary nourishment to conquer our battle against self-centeredness. The fear of God doesn’t lead to changed hearts. When we feel a meaningful bond with our parents, we are more motivated to follow their guidance which often is in our best interest. An intimate friendship with God can transform us into the kind of person we want to be.
How do we know God is like an earthly parent?
Surely a loving Creator would love the way we were created to love. God’s love surely is the same as supreme parents — other-directed not self-consumed. Love gets excited when we do well and make a difference in the lives of others. Love anticipates, hopes for our success, believes in us. God is pulling for us, even when failing, because I do the same for my children. We doubt God but God still loves. We are dependent on our children for intimate relationships. An all-powerful God would only give us uncontrolled freedom if seeking a partnership and friendship with us.
But what does the Bible say?
I am convinced God only wishes for all to consider the possibility of a loving God who desires to help you in your journey of becoming the person deep down you want to become. Loving, human parents don’t require certain beliefs from their children before hoping they will consider if they love them. Are we better lovers than God? We can’t all agree what the Bible says, even on many moral issues, but the central message about God in the Bible seems to be to strive to love others like you want to be loved. Why would God be any different toward us?
Your view of God matters!
We know God is speaking when we hear: I love you, I forgive you; I won’t abandon you; let’s see what happens, I want what you want deep down; I am not really like who some people say I am. Do you want to believe more in God? I am not sure there is anything to lose in beginning a journey of faith if the desire is to live life with fewer regrets. Personally, the biggest reason for being a God-follower is the inspiration and encouragement I sense in striving to be a better human being. If God is real, they should be able to make their case with each individual.
Mike Edwards has been writing for Done with Religion for some time and has been a great addition to the site. Mike also has his own site where he writes that can be found at What God May Really Be Like He can be contacted by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org