Down through the centuries, many traditional Christians have been fond of talking about "sinners in the hands of an angry God." These folks love to talk about the exquisite punishments that await those who stray from God's path. They believe that we are all disgusting to God, and that "He" stands ready to squash us like a bug when we get out of line. Moreover, many of these folks are ready with a number of scriptures to back up their image of God.
Of course, those who focus on God's anger and punishment tend to ignore the many references to God's compassion and mercy in Scripture. Even so, one has to acknowledge that the Scriptural evidence is used to justify both a harsh and loving view of God relative to "His" treatment of mankind. However, if we consider the evidence of our own lives and experience, God's modus operandi for dealing with "His" children becomes much clearer.
Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I've had the opportunity to observe my little grandchildren (age 10 months and 3 years), and the way that the adults in the household (including myself) interact with them. In this regard, it is interesting to note that Jesus Christ often told his followers to consider how they themselves would treat their own children if they truly wished to understand how their Heavenly Parent regarded them. As I watched them and their parents interact, several things about the way that God regards all of us became clearer to me.
In considering this subject, I was immediately struck by the fact that our little ones love to be the center of attention, and that we love to indulge them in this. We want to see their reactions to us and the world around them. We enjoy their happiness and wonder, and we do everything within our power to perpetuate and facilitate them. Indeed, we look for things that hold their attention and interest and are quite willing to indulge them for as long as they remain the focus of our little ones. Likewise, when those things lose their magic, I am struck by how quickly we all abandon the item and join the pursuit for something else to capture their imagination/interest.
When our little ones cry or express their displeasure with something, we are all immediately attentive to their needs. We are loathe to see them uncomfortable or hungry. We all stand ready to change a diaper, wet or soiled clothing or fix them something to eat (or give the littlest one to mom for nursing). In short, when they are in need, their parents and grandparents are ready to serve! Moreover, this desire to nurture our little ones appears to be as natural as water to all of us! Which brings to mind a question: Where did this natural tendency come from? Isn't it logical to suppose that our Heavenly Parent would at the very least have the same regard for "His" little ones? And, if God is the source of this natural tendency within us, isn't it likely that God's manifestation of the tendency would be even more intense and perfect than anything we might exhibit?
Finally, when our little ones fail to understand something or make mistakes, I noticed that none of us was desirous of punishing them for their shortcomings. Indeed, I observed an abundance of patience and loving indulgence in this regard. Why? Because we all understand that their understanding of the world around them (and their place within it) is still very imperfect and limited. In short, our reaction to these foibles was almost always one of encouraging and facilitating the learning of the right behavior and/or skill set. In fact, I noticed that it was only when we were tired and our own patience had worn thin that we expressed more interest in being stern and authoritarian. When my granddaughter failed to share a toy with her baby cousin, none of us were motivated to scold her or slap her little hands. On the contrary, everyone was desirous of encouraging her to share and praising her when she chose to share with him. Which brings another question to mind: How does our patience, mercy and compassion stack up against those displayed by our Divine Parent?
Hence, I think that if we are truly desirous of gaining some insight into how God reacts to "His" little ones, we need to take a look at the nurturing nature and skills that "He" has placed within most of us as parents and grandparents. In fact, don't we look at those among us who fail to exhibit these nurturing traits/skills as being aberrant/abnormal/deviant? Thus it seems to me that God epitomizes an attitude of nurturing, merciful and compassionate service to "His" little ones. What do you think?