It is said that God demands worship and awe which may discourage a close relationship and oppose God’s wishes. God, like any loving parent, only hopes to persuade through mutual respect that their love is in one’s best interest. We weren’t created to worship God so shut up and give God the glory. God surely created us to share life together.
Doesn’t the Bible command respect for God?
It is easy to read the Old Testament and think that God demanded respect from the Israelites or else! The OT also speaks of Abraham and Moses thinking of God as a Friend. It matters how one reads the Bible. The writers in getting to know God were influenced by their culture where gods were to be feared and revered. But, then Jesus who claimed to be God in flesh didn’t initiate relationships by demanding respect. Jesus got His dander up the most with the religious elite who portrayed God as demanding obedience rather than desiring a relationship.
God’s uncontrolling nature suggests God’s desire for genuine relationships.
If God was controlling or demanded obedience or respect, wouldn’t there be a lot less evil in the world? God doesn’t appear to be like the God of extremists who think that controlling or destroying free, moral decisions result in true love. It may that a God who respects freedom can’t always intervene to stop evil. God may know what we humans know – freedom not force likely leads to genuine, lasting transformations.
The Bible isn’t the only place to understand God and relationships.
The Bible doesn’t even claim to be the specific or only guide to Truth. Jesus when leaving this earth said His Spirit, not some Book, would guide us in truth (Jn. 14:16-17; 16:13). Jesus didn’t seem worried that Truth always requires discernment. Those who claim biblical writers always understood God perfectly likely accept that God created us in God’s image (Gen. 1:27). That passage has a sense of God desiring we represent God here on earth. How can we represent an inaudible God who leaves us with a Book subject to interpretation if we don’t share moral and relationship expectations influenced by God’s Spirit?
Who do you have the most genuine, closest relationships?
I know some may consider it heresy to suggest parents should earn not expect respect as their children age. My parents grew up in the generation where children were expected to be seen and not hear. Parents weren’t seeking to earn their child’s respect must less become close friends as they grew older. Parents were always parents and children were always children.
I was convinced that my children were more likely to act on my guidance, which should be in their best interest, when they desired to do so out of respect than commanded to do so. “Do as I say and not what I do” didn’t make sense to me. Our obedience has absolutely nothing to do with God’s love or a parent’s love for us. Employees or parents have genuine followers not by demanding respect but when there is a sense of mutual respect.
God seeks a close relationship through mutual respect.
God never thought fear led to life-changing transformations. Has gloomy uncertainty as to God’s favor conquered your battles against self-centeredness or long-standing habitual sins? Getting to know what God is truly like can inspire us to be the kind of persons we deep down truly want to be. You can’t get enough of a person or God because you have so much respect, not because you are commanded to love. Love out of fear often only leads to brief obligations out of guilt. My prayers alone or with others doesn’t begin: “Dear God, the Holy One, the Feared Creator of the Universe…” Such talk doesn’t invite getting to know one’s Creator. I talk to God as if a close Friend, and I haven’t been struck dead yet!