The Love of God
Looking at the parable of the prodigal son to see how we can respond to God’s love.
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him."
What is God like? He is a God of love. The power of his love is enough to blow us away. It has the power to heal and restore, but first it must melt our hearts. In Luke 15, Jesus tells the story of the ‘Lost Son’. The younger son has treated his father very badly and spent his inheritance. Eventually he comes back to him with a rehearsed speech which speaks out the story which is in his heart. His story is, ‘I am no longer worthy to be called your son…’ As we come before our heavenly Father we may be very aware that we have lived out our lives very separate from Him and that we have not always lived our lives in a way that has pleased Him. In the story, the father wants to speak a very different story over his child. He puts a ring on his finger, a fine robe on his back and starts to prepare a feast to celebrate his son’s return. Above all the father wants relationship with his child. He wants his child to know a father’s love. God the Father feels the same way about each one of us.
The story also tells of an elder son who, during all his younger brother’s wild living, has worked dutifully on his father’s farm. The elder brother’s story is that his father is a
slave driver and a mean one at that! If we choose to lay at God’s door every piece of evil and suffering we and others have experienced, we may well feel like the elder son in the story; we may feel that Father God is a hard taskmaster and maybe even abusive in the way he treats human beings. In the story the father explains to his elder son that he has misunderstood everything. What the father wanted all along was a good father/child relationship; the elder son didn’t need to slave his life away every day. Our heavenly Father too wants us to know him as the loving father he is.
So, God is a God of love…Is that really what God is like? Isn’t He also a God of judgment? It is true to say that He is holy and He hates sin. The bible uses the word ‘wrath’ to describe one of God’s attributes. ‘Wrath’ is a technical term which describes His steady hatred of sin. Sin has messed up the world God created and loves. It is hardly surprising that God hates sin. It messes up lives, relationships, families. None of us is immune to its destructive effects. It messes up childhoods, school years, careers, friendships, marriages, and we need to admit that we carry some of sin’s destructive forces with us through our lives. Life doesn’t have to be like this!
God’s steady hatred of sin comes from His love. God who loves His human creatures hates to see sin’s corrosive effects on the ones He loves. Jesus, God’s own Son came to earth to meet the requirement for justice in relation to sin by dying on the cross, and to offer to every human being a new beginning. God is always more interested in relationship than justice.
God is totally committed to His human creatures. The bible talks of the way he makes binding promises to us. To become his child and to have relationship with him, we need to respond to His love and to make a binding promise to Him. We place our lives into His hands and ask Him to make us spiritually alive. All this can be accomplished by a simple prayer like the one set out to the right. In response to this prayer, God promises to make us new!
What happens next?
You are now a Christian. Tell a church leader that you have prayed this prayer, because they will want to help you to gain a greater understanding of the step you have taken. Make sure you join a lively church!
'Jesus, I have done a lot of things wrong in my life and I need you to forgive me. I am sorry for the life I have led without you in my heart.
From now on I want to follow you and let you be in charge of my entire life. I am ready to forsake my old life and take on your life, your ways, and your desires.
I will forgive everyone who has harmed or hurt me and allow them to live free of my revenge. I ask you to send your Holy Spirit into my life and baptise me with your love and power. Amen'