John Owen (1616-1683) reminds us that the primary way in which we relate to God the Father is through love. This love must be both received and returned. Consider carefully how Sinclair Ferguson summarizes Owen on this matter.
Our problem has been that our gaze has been fixed either on our own sin (we are unlovely and unlovable), or like a person with a squint, we have looked past, rather than at, the love of our Father. Instead, we are meant to fix our eyes on Christ, so that they may be raised through Him to the Father’s love that is demonstrated in Him. To change the metaphor, we are to drink so deeply of God’s love in Christ that we reach the head of the waters found in the heart of the Father. When the eye of faith sees the Father’s love, the mouth of faith will drink deeply of the streams of grace. As we do so, we not only receive His love, but we also find ourselves inevitably, irresistibly, returning His love. And, wonderfully, just as Christ is the One through whom the Father’s love comes to us, so in Christ our love is returned to the Father.
It should not escape our notice that this, in turn, takes place through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Here, the choreography of the Trinity brings love down from heaven to earth, and then, as though the music accompanying the dance of grace now indicates that the direction of the dance is reversed, our love is returned to the Father through the Son by the inner ministry of the Spirit.
Yes, the Father’s love for us, and ours for Him, differ. His is a love of bounty; ours is a love of duty (albeit love, not duty, is its motive). His love is antecedent to ours; our love is consequent to His. Our love goes to Him although we were once haters of God; His has come to us because He is a lover of man. We love the Lord because He has first loved us. His love is, like Him, unchanging and unchangeable; ours is mutable. He may not always smile out His love to us, but He never ceases actually to love us. (The Trinitarian Devotion of John Owen, 58-59)