For me the greatest single truth to be experienced in the Christian life is to know we are forgiven. Recall the story of the lost things in Luke 15. After each is found Jesus tells the crowds that THERE IS SO MUCH JOY IN HEAVEN WHEN ONE SINNER REPENTS THAN FOR ALL THOSE WHO DON’T THINK THEY NEED TO.
I took some liberty with that verse but in proper context.
I remember when psychiatrist Karl Menninger was alive he commented that most of the people in psychiatric wards could be released, freed, and walk out on their own, so to speak, if they just realized they were forgiven.
When Jesus came into the world his major focus was on telling people that God had come to them to reconcile all people to himself, to put away all enmity, to release them from an imposed spiritual bondage by self or otherwise.
Jesus came to say that our enslavement and alienation from God is over. And the folks who realized it best were those on the fringe of society. And if we are honest that is ‘us’ often times. I think of the Prodigal Son and remember how often that is ME but the Father in the story reminds me that God takes me back, forgives my rebellion and brings me to a table of celebration, and that if I am the proud older son he begs me to come to the table to celebrate the recovery of that which was lost.
There may be a lot of things in this world that do not give us peace. Even as you are reading this, your own soul may be in some degree of turmoil. But rest a moment on this thought. You are forgiven. You and I are the children of God, the beloved of God no matter how far we have run from him.
I think at times that when I am dissatisfied with life I am the prodigal taking the blessings of my Father for granted and I am off in a far and distant land where, like the ancient Israelites, I find it hard to sing the Lord’s song. But then I stop, inside of my own head, and run to the Father’s embrace once more. I am sorry to have forgotten my place in his love but then I gaze upon his only begotten son upon the cross and realize that he is there for me, for us and no matter what else happens in my life, that forgiveness is the most essential truth by which I live in a good relationship with the Father.
And every time I come back to the Father there is a party in heaven, which to my thinking means that heaven is one big continuous celebration of the forgiveness my Savior secured for me.
My sins have been sent away and the favor of God has been bestowed upon me all due to God’s own mercy. Is there anything else more important?
Perhaps if we dwelled more upon what God has done for us we would be less concerned about what we need. As the Scripture says, ‘if God did not spare his own Son will he not give us with him everything we need.’ (Romans 8:32)
And lest you are thinking, ‘what about repentance?’ well, repentance is nothing more or less than changing the way we think so that we are drawn to Christ and not towards ourselves. Someone once explained the Greek term for repentance as if we are walking in one direction and then turn and go the other way. His way.
It’s like the cell door being thrown open. Do we choose freedom or would we rather sit on our cot absorbed in self-pity over our circumstances?
I just got off the phone with Waste Management here in Denver area because they went right by my garbage I had put out on roadside. Driver said it wasn’t out there at 8 in the morning. I found myself getting angry because I put the silly stuff out there before way before 8. So I got myself into a funk and now need to heed my own advice. Once again I am the prodigal who needs to return. Seems like I do a lot of returning.
So here’s what happened. My wife gently told me that it was probably around 8 that I put my garbage out (isn’t that what I am doing here?) and maybe just missed the guy. I called the company and apologized and apologized to my wife for being so grumpy about the whole thing.
That’s what day to day life is like. But I reminded myself that I am forgiven and loved even while I am in a far country feeding pigs. It will all be all right. Thanks for reading. The party might be a bit postponed today.