God Calls to Us
“Here, therefore, we see more clearly than day that religion took its rise when God called runaway man back to Him, when otherwise he would have been a deserter forever. For he saw that his nakedness, that is, his guilt, was of such kind and degree that he despaired of a return to favor. But a merciful God pitied his persistence in flight and his bewildered soul; and, like a devoted father who indeed hates the folly or recklessness of his son yet cannot hate the son. He gently calls to him in his desolation and despair, asking him how matters stand; “Adam, where art thou?” Oh, wonderful and unspeakable graciousness of the Heavenly Father! He who places all things where they are—or they would be nowhere—asks him where he is; but He asks for the sake of the unhappy man, that He may show him more plainly the depth of his guilt; for he did not know where in the world he was…. The Heavenly Father, therefore, asks him where he is, that man may be mindful forever in what position, in what condition of his affairs, he was when God gently called to him. Here, I say, is the cradle of religion, or rather loyal devotion (for this is the established relation between parents and children, between God and man)… Now see the loyal devotion of the father to his unfaithful son. He runs to him in spite of his obstinacy and overbears him amidst his rash designs. What is this but loyal devotion to the son? Loyal devotion, therefore, springs from God even to our day, but for our benefit; for what are we to suppose that God would have lacked even if Adam had immediately expired by the destined death? But pious devotion is complete only when we turn to the one who calls us away from ourselves and our designs.
Huldrych Zwingli, On True and False Religion.