Detail from a painting called the Unknown Watcher by William Arkle - a Heavenly being (upper left, only partially seen in this view) patiently awaits attention from a man absorbed in the trivia of everyday living
The one who loves God also gradually realises that he is loving a real responsive individual with whom he is now a friend, and this experience is confirmed by all the other experiences of love to be different from worship. For worship is a sort of one-sided love which does not allow for a response and therefore cannot move into friendship, because in worship we do not relate to God as a living being but we idealise God in a fixed image that we have in our own understanding and thus we prevent Him coming alive.
We do this, no doubt, out of a diminished sense of our own value and adequacy and out of a sense of modesty. But we only have to look at the nature of love for a moment to realise that the truest form of love does not have to behave in this manner to whatever it finds desirable to love.
In fact we discover that it is most unkind to worship others rather than to love them because it fixes them in a mould they do not wish to be fixed in; in fact by worshipping people we imprison them. But love does not wish to imprison the one it loves, above all, love longs to give expansion and enhanced beingness to the one it loves. Love longs to be in a creative and growing relation- ship with the one it loves. Love is the highest expression of life itself, and life is never static, but always wishes to be aspiring and developing towards new and untried possibilities ties.
So what I feel the term a loving God really means, is that this God is trying to develop us to a stage where we can become His friends in this deeply loving, active, personalised way which allows the creative fruits of a friendship to arise between them which constantly keeps pace with the liveliness and creative aspiration of the living spirit of our common Divine Specieshood.
When we enter this loving friendship with God, which enables Him to be a responsive individual as we are, then we discover that we are also able to befriend one another as well. And thus we find that God becomes our wisest and best friend among many friends. And if we look into the deep heart of love we will see that this is exactly what it has always wished for, and it is the motivation and mainspring behind the whole process that we know of as creation.
Excerpted from an essay called Divine Love, in The Great Gift, by William Arkle; read the whole thing here...