Life feels ‘really’ hard sometimes. The moment I wake up in the morning to the second I get to fall back asleep at night, I am constantly thinking about how I can please God. My mind never turns off as I contemplate ways that would build God’s kingdom, how I could preach a text so that others will hear the Word of God, and listen carefully as to how I am to guide God’s faithful people. God’s promises for rest are music to my ears. And so, it is difficult for me as it would be for any other human, to accept the fact that even though there are those who have fallen so far from God, God still loves them so much and gathers them into His loving and forgiving arms.
In Luke 15:11-31, is the story of the Prodigal Son that most people know or have at least heard before. The father has two sons. The older son gets up every single morning and works very hard for his father – aiming to please him in every way. The younger son asked his father to receive his inheritance early, takes the money and travels – partying and spending his money on women and wine. He runs out of money and can no longer provide for himself. He becomes down on his luck and reaches the point of starvation.
But, this younger son knows where he can go to be fed and have a place to sleep. And, in his journey home, he realizes the mistakes he has made and begins to repent. When his father sees him coming from a distance, he runs to him and welcomes him with open arms. The father has a welcome home party for him and even gives him a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. When the older brother comes home for working for his father, his feelings are hurt, and thinks that his father has not appreciated all that he does for him. But, his father tells him, “Everything I have is yours. But, your brother was dead and has come back to life.”
You see, Jesus doesn’t view death in the same way you and I do. For Jesus, death is sin. It’s death because our sin keeps us from a relationship with Jesus. If we keep on sinning intentionally, we may as well live in hell. To turn away from that way of life that keeps us from God, gives us life! As disciples for Jesus Christ, isn’t that what we are called to do? Is it not our goal to help others realize there is life in Christ and to turn from their sin?
While we work hard for the Lord, let us rejoice in those who have been lost, are now found – Found in God’s loving and forgiving arms.
Let us pray, Gracious God, we give you thanks for your loving and forgiving arms that reach out to us. We give thanks for all who do the work for your kingdom. Let us rejoice that even only one comes to you today, we have peace in knowing that we always belong to you. In your name we pray, Amen.