As I indicated in an earlier post, I’m currently reading the book Designed for Inheritance by Carlos A. Rodriguez. The following paragraph rang true to me:
“There is a desperate need for our generation to meet this Father — both in the body of Christ and outside of it. And although this parable is commonly used to invite “backsliders” to come back home, the “prodigal son behavior” is inside most of us. At church, we live in the Father’s house but we are most interested in His inheritance than His person. We want the anointing for ministry, revelation to prepare a sermon, ideas so we can make money. Then we go to foreign lands of ambition, spend it all on ourselves and when hunger strikes, we repent. We return with a pay-him-back mentality willing to be hired servants. Yet God is interested in our closeness to Him, not in the amount of our religious repentance or the quality of our efforts and service.”
When I think about how I used to perceive the Father, I am so glad that He opened my eyes one afternoon in Kansas City, Missouri. Before that trip, I believed that God loved me, but I defined his love as merciful toleration. I knew he was good because he could love his own enemies. Then, as I slouched in a chair at the International House of Prayer listening to a worship leader sing as if he’d just fallen in love, I heard a whisper in my heart.
“Tina, do you think I love you?”
“Of course, Lord, I know you love me.”
“But Tina, do you think I like you?”
My epiphany thrust me into being a little girl who could nestle into the Father’s bosom, not because of anything that I did, or didn’t do, but because He wanted me there. He liked me. No matter what I did! My worth wasn’t based on my actions or my selfish requests, how much I served Him or how large my tithe. My worth was based on the shed blood of his only begotten Son. It didn’t matter that previously I had looked only to what he could give me versus who he was for me. He just waited like the father in Luke 15 who hoped that his son would realize that nothing the world offered was as good as a sense of unconditional acceptance and belonging. After trying everything else, desperate need brings prodigals home to sincere relationship with a God who likes them in spite of their past.
We’ve all heard the phrase, “Love the sinner but hate the sin.” How true is that of God our Father. While he doesn’t like of our sinful actions, He loves us with a love that endures our most hideous mistakes. He likes us. To me, sitting on that chair, “liking” connoted a choice. We humans operate like this all the time. We choose to like or not like someone usually based on their actions or personality. But God cannot help but to like what he creates. Sin doesn’t mar his vision of the person he divinely envisioned. After all he conceived us in His divine heart before we were conceived in our mother’s womb. Our worth is not based on our actions. It’s based on who we belong to and we belong to Him!
When we truly perceive his character, not through artistic depictions or religious stoicism that dismisses John’s head on Jesus’ breast, but through scriptural acknowledgment of the kind redemption he offers, the non tyrannical presence of his Spirit, and the patient understanding he gained by sending his Son to walk inside the human experience, we succumb. We reach forth as he runs towards us. Father grasps fallen child. We repent. We unwind from the world’s pull. We fall onto his breast with muddied clothes and feel him wrap his arms around us. We realize that our most precious inheritance is the One who loves us without condition.
This realization is what will cause a lost and longing generation of prodigals to return home.
“Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.”
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