Live Like You are Loved or Live to be Loved?

In a previous post I examined the “Parable of the Prodigal Sons.” I asked for feedback on the question: “is it better to lived like you are loved or live to be loved?” We at The Narrative believe that it is better to live as if we are loved. It changes the way we think and act toward others. It shifts the focus from living to gain for ourselves, to realizing that we already are loved so much by Jesus no matter what. That realization shifts our focus from needing more for ourselves, to accepting the love of Jesus that we know we already have, and working on how we can help others know and accept that same love. Do we get it perfect every time? No, but ultimately at the end of the day, we find courage and strength in knowing that even when we make mistakes, we are loved. We don’t have to earn it; Jesus loves us just as we are. Lets explore this story further. There is so much more to learn from it!

After a couple days of eating pig slop, Jesus says that the kid who left his home and lost his money comes to his senses. I mean, how much pig slop did he, and do we, have to eat before we come to our senses? Well, he realizes that while he is wasting away from hunger and eating pig vomit soup, his father’s servants have more than enough to eat.

So at this point, the son hatches a plan. Permit a little bit of sanctified imagination here:  

“Man…feeding these pigs is terrible!

How in the world did I ever get into this mess? Sigh…man, I’ve been such a fool… what am I going to do? Hmm…

I guess the only thing I can do is go back to my Father, tell him I have sinned against heaven and against him, and ask him to make me a worker. I mean…

what other options do I have? Stay here and eat pig slop?

No… that’s not gonna work. Although I have hurt him terribly, my Father is ridiculously generous and provides well for even his lowest servants. Perhaps he will allow for me to come back on these terms and work off my debt to him…

I just hope I can earn his love back…”

And that is exactly what the boy does. He gets up outta the pig slop and starts on his way home to his father.

But man… check out how his Father responds… this next description is breath-taking.

Luke 15:20b "While the son was still a long way off, his father saw him. He was filled with tender love for his son. He ran to him. He threw his arms around him and kissed him.

Notice with me:

The Father is THINKING about his son and has a TENDER love toward him.

Instead of sitting inside moping, the Father actively scans the horizon. He is looking for his son. He sees him from a distance and is FILLED with love for Him.

And how is that love described? A tender love. Not a love filled with scorn or disdain. Not a love that was earned or even kept. But a love that was so totally a part of who the Father was that it literally moved Him to action.  I mean, check out what happens next; it’s breath-taking:

He ran to him. He threw his arms around him and kissed him.

In other words, despite being a terrible social disgrace, the Father HURRIEDLY RUNS to his son.

In that day, it was a disgrace for an older man to run because in order to do so, he would have to hike up his tunic and his undergarments would be showing. Noble-men like the Father did not do this…

Not only that, but this self-imposed disgrace comes after his son has openly disgraced him and squandered half of his possessions. A double disgrace!

But check it out—the Father didn’t care about that… all He cared about was embracing His son and having him back.

So the Father runs out to his son and when he gets close to him, he EXCITEDLY EMBRACES him.

He throws his arms around his son and kisses him profusely. This is not the stern, stoic, “Oh, you’re back. How long until you mess up again?” stance. It’s just the opposite! This is great grace and love demonstrated through the Father absorbing great shame and excitedly embracing His son despite all He did.

And this is exactly what Jesus did for us… absorbed all our shame on Himself and excitedly embraced us when we turned to Him in repentant faith. If you have not done that yet, do so today! God is longing to embrace you like this… and our hearts are not at rest until they are at rest in Him.

Let’s read the next little portion. This story just keeps getting better and better, doesn’t it?

Luke 15:21-24:21 "The son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer fit to be called your son.' 22"But the father said to his servants, 'Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattest calf and kill it. Let's have a big dinner and celebrate. 24 This son of mine was dead. And now he is alive again. He was lost. And now he is found.' "So they began to celebrate.        

When the son is in the Father’s arms, he is trying to squeak out his apology speech but it’s almost like the Father doesn’t even hear Him… The Father instead yells to his servants, “Guys! Quick! Bring the best robe! Put it on him!” Don’t skimp on the ring and the other stuff!

Whoa! What?! The best robe? After what he did to you? And put a ring on his finger? Are you serious? You want to give him back a sense of family identity when he considered you dead and wanted nothing but your money? And put sandals on his feet? Really?! After he used his feet to walk away? No way! And isn’t it a bit much to kill the fattened calf and prepare a feast for this one who ate like a fool in the pig-pen of the world? No way

Notice what the son leaves out of his return speech—he originally was going to ask to work for His Father. But after receiving the grace, love and mercy of His Father, he dropped that part out. Why? Because he realized that He didn’t have to earn His forgiveness. He didn’t have to work for it! The Father was so ridiculously generous that it knocked that idea right out of his mind!

So instead of embracing a disdain-filled attitude toward his wayward son (an attitude that others so naturally felt toward him after he treated his Father so terribly), the Father instead EXTRAVAGENTLY CELEBRATES his son’s homecoming because his son came home.

So they throw this HUGE party… and this represents the great rejoicing in Heaven when a sinner turns from his sins toward relationship with the perfect Heavenly Father.

What great, magnificent, undeserved love of the Father! According to Jesus, this is who God is. This is how Jesus reveals the Father to us. And this is the picture of Father we need to hold in our hearts.

Well… there is one part of the story left… the older brother. As we’ll see, the Father was RIDICULOUSLY PATIENT with both his sons…

But that part of the story will have to wait until next time…

by Travis Woronowicz