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How is God the Father different from our earthly fathers or us? Or is He different?
I remember one of Richard Wurmbrand’s stories from his time spent in a Romanian communist prison. He spent over thirteen years in prison for his faith. And he was beaten and tortured in many different ways over the years. Moreover, one of the things his guards used to do, was to put drugs in his food and water to make him lose his mind. Consequently, because of the physical and mental abuse, and because of the drugs in his food, he began forgetting things.
He was a man with an excellent memory. However, one day he wanted, as usual, to pray. And he tried to pray the Lord’s prayer. But to his surprise, he was not able to remember the prayer. All he could remember was the first part of the prayer:
Our Father in heaven
And he was angry with himself because he was not able to remember the rest of the prayer. Moreover, thoughts of guilt and shame started to overwhelm him, because he found it unacceptable for a Pastor not to know all of the Lord’s prayer. Therefore, he began pouring out his heart before the Lord.
However, while he was praying, he got a revelation. He realized that he knows the most crucial part of the Lord’s prayer— our Father. And instantly he was filled with the joy of the Lord and was overwhelmed by God’s Presence!
If you will ever ask me: Oni, what is your favorite chapter in the Bible? I will tell you without a blink of an eye— Luke 15. Do you remember the story?
Father God through the eyes of Jesus
In the Prodigal Son parable, Jesus is presenting His Father to us! And at the beginning of the chapter, we find Jesus sitting in the company of the tax collectors and sinners. However, the Pharisees and the Torah scholars did criticise Him for doing that. Just imagine a Pastor that you respect spending time with drug addicts. What would be your reaction?
Nevertheless, Jesus was not affected by their attitude towards Him. Moreover, He told them three parables. The first one is about a shepherd. The second one is about a woman who finds a lost coin. And the third one is about a loving Father!
In what way is our heavenly Father different from our earthly fathers?
1. Our heavenly Father is different in His love
In verse 11 Jesus began telling about a father who has two sons. And the youngest came to him one day and asked for his share of the property. A shameful and offending thing to do, for at least two reasons. One because his father was not dead. And second, because according to the law one should never sell his land (also read the story of Ahab and Naboth in 1 Kings 21).
Moreover, in verse 13 we read that the young son traveled to a far country. Do you think he had some issues with his father that he wanted to go far away from him? However, the father, in his love, allowed his son to make this mistake. Young people think they know everything and do not know how dangerous the world is.
The world was more tempting to the son than the presence of the father. And this is true for so many people today who pursuit the world and its pleasures. And do not see how much garbage there is. Furthermore, we read that the son spent all of his money and ended up with pigs. Most of all, for a Jew to be among pigs is unthinkable!
However, one day he came to his senses and remembered his father and how good life was with him and decided to go back. There is something special about this father. He is so different than our earthly fathers. He thinks differently and loves differently.
2. Our heavenly Father is different in His grace
In verse 20 (TLV) we read
And he got up and went to his own father. But while he was still far away, his father saw him and felt compassion. He ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.
His father was waiting for his son every day, in the same place— home. And when he saw that his son comes home, he did something unusual for the customs of his days. He runs towards his son. And loved him!
By the way, never close the door on someone who acted wrongly towards you. And never say: Don’t you ever come back to me.
What would you and I have done in the father’s place? Maybe I would have preached something to him or asked him to repent and say I told you so. However, this father thinks and acts differently than you and me. Do you remember what the father told his son after he came back? Read the next verses, and you will see that the father told him NOTHING. He just accepted his son and loved him. The father accepted the son because he repented. God’s love is unconditional, but His acceptance is conditioned by our repentance.
And when do you think the father loved his son more? When he let him go away, or when he was waiting for him to come back? Or maybe when he hugged him at his return? When I first had to answer this question, I thought that he loved him more in the first instance. However, the real answer is that he loved his son just as much, all the time! God’s love and grace are different. And our heavenly Father is different. And not only that, but he also restored his son.
3. Our heavenly Father is different in His joy
After his younger son came back, the father began celebrating his return. And in verse 25 we read
Now his older son was out in the field. And as he came near the house, he heard music and dancing.
The older son was not happy with the arrival of his younger brother. And the older sons in our days are never glad to hear stories of restoration. They think are better because they stayed with the father, in his house. And do not realize how prodigal they are in their hearts.
Music and dancing in the house of the father? This father is very different than how we would have dealt with the young son. Moreover, when he heard that his older son is outside and does not want to enter the house, he came out for him. I can see a father that is a real leader. He knows how to deal with both of his sons.
We can see the heart of the Father
We can see the message of the gospel and the heart of God in this story. At the beginning of the chapter, we saw Jesus spending time with sinners and the tax collectors. And the Pharisees did not like that. However, in the next three parables, Jesus sends them a clear message. The message is: the Father loves the sinners, but He also loves you! Moreover, He loves both the younger son and the older son. And the heart of God is for both of His sons to come in the house and enjoy the party He has laid for them! And rejoice in His Presence!
Jesus said in John 6:37 (TLV)
Everyone the Father gives Me will come to Me, and anyone coming to Me I will never reject.
And Psalm 9:10 (ESV) says
And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.
The heart of God is for all of us to come home. And our home is in His Presence and love!
If you walked away from the Lord, it is time for you to get into your senses and come home. Come back to the Father. His heart beats for you, and He is waiting for your return. And in His arms, there is restoration and the love you were seeking in the wrong places. Moreover, only He can satisfy your heart’s longings.
God is just a prayer away. In your words, rededicate your life to Him and ask for Jesus to fill you with the Holy Spirit. And remember that when you know whose you are, you know who you are! And you belong to the Father!
Do you agree?
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