It is easy, in some ways, to realize that God “loves” us. However, that will leave God distant. We need to go one step further. We need to come to see that God actually likes us.
Jesus came to a point where He told the disciples “I call you friends.” That is of no small import. He calls us friends. When we can invite God into that friendship, the relationship changes. We then hold Him the way He already holds us.
I really believe much of Christianity has gone astray. We need to be ok with that – we need not recoil but to look at it candidly. Just as individuals have gone astray so do religious movements with rare exception.
Going astray happens, as New Church theology clearly points out, when loving kindness leaves the center and is replaced by an intellectualized faith. We can do that as individuals or as churches. It is not about the theology but about our use of it.
What then is the connection to “friendship” and being “liked” by God? The connection is that we often press continually on our faith, on our image of God as more and more of a sacred Being – way, way beyond us – which of course God is and which of course He is not. We cannot push Him so far away that all we speak of is His love as a distant knowledge and not about a very real friendship, a very real being liked.
The New Church centers on a return to true Christianity, a form we do see practiced in the world, and not just by Christians, but infrequently embraced by formal religious bodies.
So there is the celebration! A return to Christianity – a return to the friendship of God.