We are often told that God wants a relationship with us. However, it can be difficult to decide what kind of relationship He wants and what kind we want. Lately, I have been thinking about God as a Father. This is likely because all of my children will be legal adults this coming year and while I am still their father, my role is less of that as their parent. Our relationship is evolving. I am less of a remote authoritarian far outside their understanding and more a mentor, and perhaps someday a wise peer. So it is, I think, with our relationship with God. It evolves, and while we will never be peers, what do we need to do to have a relationship with Him, as a father.
As a father of young children, I was the dispenser of love, rules, judgment and punishment. A godly figure in the eyes of a child. The goal of early parenting was obedience and the internalizing, by my children, of the moral voice of their father. So it was with the God that spoke to Abraham and Moses, as God was forming his family. My role with my children, and God's role with his children was that of a parent and the relationship was between an authority and a subordinate. However, as God's people evolved morally, intellectually and psychologically, so did the relationship. God entrusted us with more responsibility by replacing the Ten Commandments with the Two Commandments: Love God with all of your heart, Love your neighbor as yourself. With increased responsibility came increased reward including a promise of access to the kingdom of heaven.
The price of access to The Kingdom is built on the obedience we learn as a child, our actions as adults and a loving relationship with God. I pray it is ok that I analogize the type of relationship I want with my children to the relationship God wants with His children.
What I want for my adult children is for them to love me with all their heart and to love their neighbors as themselves. They can do this by being grateful for being given life, enjoying the opportunities provided them, doing honest honorable work, struggling against the adversities that challenge them, building families and passing on the values and traditions that perpetuate this cycle. Practically, I want them to grow up, move out and build a life. I don't want them to need to call every day, for every decision. I don't want them to spend their entire lives trying to repay me for being their father as it was my choice and my job and my gift to them. I don't want to be idolized but I hope that you can model yourself after me and that it would bring me honor. I would like hear from them at least once a week and have them share with me their triumphs and tribulations. No matter how small, if they are of interest to my children then they are of interest to me. I'd like to be invited into their expanding and enriched lives. Holidays, birthdays, sports, pageants, Sunday dinners, bbq's - I'd like to be invited to all of it. Occasionally, when they do something good like standing up for what is right, or rising to a parenting challenge or resisting a temptation, I'd like them to give me a bit of the glory even if it is just in their own head. A simple, 'thanks, I learned that from you'.
Honestly, I believe God wants something very similar from all of us. He has commanded us to love Him and our neighbors. Beyond obedience, He wants us to build a life of good purpose. He has given us the gifts of life and a promise of heavenly reward but worshiping him won't get us there, we need to model ourselves after him and do work that brings him honor, makes him proud. He invites us to check in as often as we like but would prefer that we do so at least once a week by keeping a Sabbath. He wants us to share with Him the good and the bad because even if He can't fix it, He loves us and wants to share our burdens. He wants to be invited into our lives and promises that when two or more of us are gathered, He is there. All he asks, is that when you break bread or drink wine, you give him a shout out. Finally, while the accomplishment is always yours, every now and then, He'd like you to share the glory with him. If people see what He did for you, and what you do for Him, they might invite Him into their lives and He wants that relationship with all of his children.