Even When You Don’t Believe…
God’s Love is Unconditional
The words of the twenty-third Psalm are some of the most striking in the Bible. They portray a God who is characterized by ever-present, ever-powerful, never-ending, grace-filled, accepting love.
You may have grown up in a cold environment where your father never expressed his love. Or a broken home where you rarely (if ever) saw him. Or, whether physically or emotionally, your father deserted your family. The very word, “father,” may provoke poor images. Even hostility.
If you struggle to wrap your mind around the idea of a loving father, consider the powerful story found in Luke 15. It is known as the parable of the Prodigal Son. It tells the tale of two sons. Knowing Dad had plenty of money, the younger son demanded his share of the inheritance. No waiting for the funeral: “Give it to me now.”
In the Jewish context in which Jesus told this story, such behavior represented the ultimate insult. A father’s legacy involved far more than his money. He passed on his identity, teachings, cultural traditions, and other intangibles that represented the best he had to offer his offspring.
So, what did this ungrateful son do with his share of the fortune? Wasted every last dime. Traveled afar off and engaged in riotous living. When a famine struck the land, he wound up slopping pigs in hopes of finding a scrap of food. For Jews who shunned pork as unclean, the Prodigal Son had sunk as low as possible.
Shamed beyond belief, the son recognized even his father’s hired hands lived better than him. He decided to swallow his pride and return home. This is where the story gets so interesting. Instead of responding, “I told you so” or “I hope you learned your lesson,” the father greets his returning son with joy. He tells his servants to dress his son in the finest clothing and prepare a feast.
The son’s older brother isn’t too happy. He resents his father treating this rebellious son with such gentleness and forgiveness. In doing so, the older brother missed the point—his father’s blessings were always available to him, too.
Jesus used this parable to paint a picture of His heavenly Father. A Father who loves you and is ready to welcome you home. Such acceptance is beyond human comprehension. But this is the kind of God who believes in you.
A Challenge For You…
Read Luke 15:11-32. Describe your impressions of the Prodigal Son and his older brother. What did each do right? What did each do wrong? How do you feel about their father? Was he a kind, loving man or a sap who let his kids get away with anything? How does this father’s action change your impression of God? Why not tell Him how you feel?
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