We’ve all had our own experience as the “prodigal.” If we haven’t blatantly left the Father’s presence, seeking the world to fill that hole whom only God can fill, we might be the perfectionist, lost in pride over our own self-righteousness. Maybe we’ve spent time in unbelief, avoiding relationship with Him in prayer, lost in the lie that we are not loved by Him. The possibilities are endless, and each circumstance is unique.
Regardless of what our “prodigal” narrative looks like, we read in Luke 15:11-32 about the Father’s unwavering love for each one of us. Surrounded by tax collectors and sinners, Jesus paints a stunning portrait of God’s heart. He gives us free will, allowing us to go our own way, knowing all along, that we will never find fulfillment without Him. Yet, even in His knowing, He will not force Himself on us. He allows us to deviate from His path, that we may recognize our need for Him and discover the reality of His unfailing love.
Long before our rebellion, He forgave us in full, as Christ hung high upon the cross; mocked and taunted by His murderers and accusers. His response? “Father, forgive them…” Luke 23:34
For years, I tried hard to overcome sin in my own strength. I thought that was what God expected of me. I thought He was ashamed or disappointed in me, when I failed. But in His patience, He helped me understand that my strength will never be enough, and that’s why Jesus paid the price in full. When Christ said, “it is finished,” while hanging on the cross in John 19:30, He meant, “IT IS FINISHED!” The only requirement of me, is to believe His blood is enough.
This week, I struggled with my attitude toward someone I know; I mean, really struggled. I know God calls me to love others, regardless of their actions, but despite knowing His perspective, feelings of anger and intolerance welled up within me.
Most of the time, offences are unintended and occur without malice. We all fall short. Other times, however, offenses result from careless, insensitive, or even mean-spirited attitudes. Regardless of the level of offence, I am faced with a critical decision. Will I choose the way of Christ, in me? Or will I choose the way of my old identity, responding out of unbelief and fear? How I respond, will not only determine whether I reveal Christ to others. It will also determine whether I experience His peace in me.
This week, as I recognized the old me trying to crawl back out of the grave, I was faced with a choice; to love or hate. So today, I choose to stop and refocus my attention on the truth: Christ, in me. (Colossians 1:27) As I fix my eyes on Him, the One who surrendered all for me, I remember that when He said, “it is finished,” and offered forgiveness, through His own blood, He surrendered all for my offender as well. It really is finished!