Thankfully, though, salvation has no conditions. No matter what we do, God
honors His part in the covenant. “Even when we are faithless He remains faithful
for He cannot deny Himself.” God is always there for us. God is always near.
Sometimes we’ve started walking away, but like the Prodigal Son all it takes is
for us to start walking towards Him again. Did you know that the word “repent”
means “turn around”? And let me share a couple of thoughts about the Prodigal
Son that Jesus’ audience would have known, but we don’t:
The son did something to the father in that story that would have shocked the
audience hearing it. He asked for his inheritance before his father was
dead—this is the equivalent of saying “I wish you were dead!” He cursed his
father by getting that money. Yet the father gave it to him. And that’s not as
shocking as what the father does later in the story. See, we are told that when
the father saw the son coming from a distance, he RAN TO HIM. Men in that
culture didn’t run. It was undignified. Something children might do. And, not
only did he run, but he ran to a son who had earlier in the story wished death
on his head. And the father is God! In case you never figured it out, WE are the
prodigal son. Sin means “missing the mark” and it’s used to describe what
we’ve done every time we do something that falls short of what God has
planned for the ideal in our lives. And every time we sin we are violating our
part of the covenant—saying to God that we wish he were dead—acting our
part in why Jesus had to die in the first place. Yet all we have to do is turn
around—repent—let God see us, even off in the distance, and HE RUNS TO
US! Nothing can separate us from the love of Jesus! There is no sin or
behavior too great that the blood of Jesus can’t cover it!
But if God isn’t abandoning us, why does bad stuff happen?
God made a choice when He made Adam and Eve. When He gave them free
will He set up boundaries on what He would interfere with. Some people
choose to reject the idea of Free Will because they think that a God who isn’t
controlling everything is a weak God. I believe it is a mark of strength.
When we parent our young children we can choose how we do it. Most people
are familiar with the two extremes of punitive and permissive. This bipolar view
of parenting comes from our bipolar view of all of life. Either/or thinking. And
with punitive parenting comes a lot of control. We think that by controlling our
children and all aspects of their life we can keep them safe—guarantee they
reach adulthood and that they’ll be saved and that they’ll listen to us about their
spouse and then about raising their own children. I met one woman online who
went so far as to make her toddler wear a bike helmet when she played in the
house because she’d fallen off the couch one time. If we can just make them
obey us without question, we think, then they will never make mistakes. Or we
think that by giving them all the space they need we will nurture them and help
them develop their own boundaries and rules that fit them—and that we can
keep them happy. If happy is the only acceptable emotion, we fear any signs
they aren’t happy. I was sharing with a woman recently that GBD is “kind” and
firm, not “nice” and firm. See, kindness is about how we go about setting
healthy boundaries—it’s about having a desire to not harm or inflict suffering.
But “nice” is about trying to get someone to like you.