Am I a servant simply following orders of a great and terrible taskmaster or am I a friend who desires to freely cooperate out of genuine love and delight? If all God wanted was a creature to do his bidding I believe He could have created, for all intents and purposes, a living robot. No fuss, no muss. From my puny viewpoint, I know I am not a robot. The question is am I a friend of God? Do I love God? The end effect is the same whether I am a programmed beast or a loving obedient follower—the work gets done either way. If I were God, I would certainly want the loving obedient follower. The bible would indicate this to be true of God as well by virtue of the choices God offers us.
Someone who really loves God and really knows Him and his ways (at least to the extent that one could expect a human to be able to do this) would certainly be able to anticipate what God would desire of him in any given circumstance. Much like two lovers silently are able to anticipate the other’s needs and desires because of their intimate desire for and knowledge of each other. The lovers do not need to be constantly commanding and directing one another; that would almost certainly dampen the relationship. Willard writes:
And so it is in our union with God, a person both loving and beloved. He does not delight in always having to explain what his will is; he enjoys it when we understand and act upon his will.
Perhaps God would like for us to know him well enough such that we would be able to automatically do his will by virtue of thinking His thoughts after him. I don’t think I am there yet. I think God needs to jerk my chain a few more times and bless me a few more times when I get it right. It worked for my dog; he loves me and pretty well can anticipate what I want him to do.
The lover analogy goes too far however. The lovers are equals; I am not equal to…I can’t even say it because the inequality seems to give man too much stature for even being in the same equation. Willard gives another appealing analogy:
The gushing pleasure of a small child who is helping his or her parent comes from the expansion of the child’s little self through immersion in the life of a larger self to which the child is lovingly abandoned. With its parent the child does big things that he or she could not undertake alone. But the child would not even be interested in doing these things apart from the parent’s interest, attention and affection.
That is a nice analogy. Father and child—child totally absorbed in the father’s love and life with no thought of his own. But we love to hear His voice too. That is the lesson today. We need to learn this way to be with God. I’d rather know Him well enough to anticipate Him than have my chain jerked.
God is sovereign but we are not robots. I think God delights in our free will so that our love and desires motivate us to do his commands only because of loving to be with…Him.