Is God tyrannical?
Conversations between my friend and me often followed a similar pattern. In trying to explain our relationship with God, I'd point out that we ignore him. My friend would respond with "you can't demand to be loved, that's the behaviour of a tyrant." Even pointing out that as our Creator he owns and therefore deserves our obedience never helped; and the conversation would move to other things and my friend was left thinking God is a self-centred dictator.
The answer to my problem can be found in the fact that God is Trinity. It is only because God is Trinity that he is not selfish. He is other-person-centred. Imagine: if God was Unitarian i.e. one God not in three persons when he created the world he would do so for his own glory and no one else's. But since God is Trinitarian i.e. one God in three persons, Father, Son and Spirit, he does not seek to bring glory to himself but to the other persons of the Trinity.
In John 17 Jesus prays to his Father and says "Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you." The Father's concern is that his Son be glorified while the Son's concern is the glory of the Father. God is not selfish, his desire is to see someone other than himself glorified.
When I next speak to my friend, I have something important to tell her. Instead of confusion about God's motives I will be able to explain the truth clearly. God is not selfish; he should be praised for his selflessness. The Father's desire is to see Jesus praised as the head of all creation because of the sacrifice he made so that humanity could know and dwell with God once more. Jesus' concern is to see his Father glorified through this reconciliation. God cannot be a tyrant because his concern is for the other persons of the Trinity and it is that concern that overspills and benefits us. Does God demand my praise? Yes, the Father demands I praise the Son for laying down his life for me, the Son demands I praise the Father for sending his Son. Does this mean God is a tyrant? No, he brings glory to the other persons of the Trinity. This means God has an absolute right to my devotion, and it is my greatest joy to give it.
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