Nominated for three Grammy Awards, the hit song “One of Us” asks the question, “What if God was one of us?”
The answer is that God did become one of us. That’s who Jesus is. He’s God who walked this earth, who loves us, and who showed us His love in a tangible way by going to the cross and dying there in our place.
Yet a lot of people wonder what God is like. Is He a cosmic killjoy out to ruin our lives? Is He a sentimental teddy bear of sorts who really has no care?
Well, the Bible says that God is love. It doesn’t say that He’s merely loving; it says that He is love. God is love personified. He is love incarnate. Of course, that doesn’t mean He isn’t righteous, because the Bible certainly teaches that He is. But God loves us.
In the New Testament book of Luke, we find one of the most well-known stories in the pages of Scripture that shows us God’s attitude toward us, even when we’ve miserably failed Him. It’s a parable that Jesus told to show us what God is like.
As the story begins, we find a young man who decided to leave home. We don’t know much about him. But we might envision him as a teenage boy who’s tired of the constraints of living at home with his father.
So he said, in effect, “Look, Dad, I want to go out there and live life the way that I choose to live it. I’m tired of being here under your roof. I want my portion of the estate that’s coming to me.”
Now, it would have been very difficult to divide the estate while his father was still living. But this boy didn’t care about inconveniencing his father. He didn’t care about what heartache or difficulty it would bring. All that he cared about was himself.
His father could have denied him, of course. His father could have said, “You’re not going anywhere, son. And if you try to go, I’m going to deal with you.” Instead, his father gave him free will, the ability to choose.
I don’t know what kind of home this boy had, but the Bible gives us a few hints. It seemed to be a relatively affluent home. They probably lived in a nice neighborhood. They certainly had servants working for them.
We could also assume that it was an affectionate home. That’s because when the boy returned, dressed in rags and smelling horribly, his father threw his arms around him and kissed him again and again.
Therefore, I don’t think there were problems in the home that drove this boy away. Rather, I think there were problems in his heart.
In his mind, his father stood between him and what he really wanted, which he thought was outside of his father’s house. Maybe he was tired of school or work or responsibilities. So off he went because the bright lights of the big city were calling.
He didn’t even offer a word of thanks. He didn’t say, “Dad, thanks for all those years of taking care of me and providing for me.” No, he was out of there.
He left home with a spring in his step and money in his pockets. And when he hit town, he no doubt was one popular person. But the Bible says that “he wasted all his money in wild living” (Luke 15:13 NLT). The money quickly ran out, and soon he was reduced to nothing. He hit bottom fast.
Then we read, “About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs. The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything” (verses 14–16 NLT).
A famine will always come after a season of sin. In other words, sin will be fun for a time, and then you’ll see it for what it is. At first the world is your oyster, but suddenly the oyster will close in on you.
That’s what happened to the young man in our story, and the Bible tells us that “he finally came to his senses” (verse 18 NLT).
It’s amazing when this happens in someone’s life. Sometimes it’s a somewhat gradual process, and sometimes it’s instantaneous. But they come to the realization that they don’t like what they’re doing. For instance, they might realize that so-called friends aren’t really friends at all. Or, they decide they’re sick of getting drunk or doing drugs. It just dawns on them.
But they have to see that for themselves.
This young man originally thought he had it tough in his father’s house, but he came to see things as they really were.
Here’s what happened next: “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him” (verse 20 NLT).
This story illustrates two things: the sinfulness of humanity and the love of God. We have all run away from God, but God loves us and is willing to go to any lengths to get us back.
Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13 NKJV).
It breaks God’s heart when we leave Him. It deeply hurts Him when we sin against Him and violate His commandments. But God will allow us to make our own choices.
Yet even when we’ve miserably failed, God is willing to forgive us if we will come to our senses and come to Him.
But it isn’t enough to simply realize that we’re sinners. It isn’t even enough to realize that Jesus died for our sins and offers forgiveness. We have to act on it.
And let me just say that we’re not doing God a favor by considering His offer to us. Rather, He’s doing us a favor by offering it in the first place. So run to Him and receive His offer of forgiveness before it’s too late.
Learn more about Pastor Greg Laurie.
This article was originally published at WND.com.
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