The love of our Father, God is shown in the parable of the Prodigal Son as recorded in Luke 15:11-32, bringing you hope.
Here we see a father having two sons with different attitudes: One is considered a sinner and waster while the other is good and dependable.
The church must operate within the confines of what we preach, that is, love, faith and hope. The church should expect that sinners (young or old) will return, therefore always create a welcoming atmosphere for those who return. Once they see how others are warmly received, they too will have a sense of having a home church where they would always be loved, forgiven and received back even if they ever strayed. The Prodigal Son in Luke 15:11-32 could be likened to a youth who left church but ended up coming back. The church must now be sure that there is an atmosphere made ready for such youths or anyone who decides to come back to the former church. Here we see a father and two sons with different attitudes: One is considered a sinner and waster while the other is good and dependable.
There is still love for the wasteful: is the one who leaves home in search of life and enjoyment. He does not know that he is leaving life for death. He thinks life is out there, not knowing that only pigs are out there. So it is true that many of our children believe that there is fun out there, not knowing that the system of the world is a pig which takes away all of one’s dignity. So are many adults who leave where God has placed them, in search of human deliverers out there. But because of love, the father longs for our return.
With genuine love, the father hugs the returning son, showing that he still belongs to the family, regardless of where he has been. This type of action is necessary because if one is lost, the whole family should feel it. If one returns, the value of the family or church has increased. Not just the hug, the father puts a robe on him: To treat him humanely and welcome him back into the family – giving him a sense of belonging, identity, dignity and favor. Though he is expected to be condemned and cast away, but the father shows him love. This is where we see Jesus substituting His own shame for the identity of all His children who have been long lost in sin. Churches should be ready at all times to receive back the young ones when they return from their craving for the world. We ought to create an atmosphere for them where they can receive a welcome-back-home package if they have strayed. The Prodigal Son receives a ring, a sign of his authority being restored. He is given sandals to wear, never needing to walk bear footed or on wounded feet again. He is now protected and decorated. This is what our young ones should get when they return. To top it, this son gets a welcome-back party. This is the love of God for all His children who have gone astray. In fact, Jesus already died for us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8). This is the type of atmosphere the church should create for the young if we truly expect them to return. In fact, it must be that the Prodigal Son knows the type of home he left behind, a home he could full of father’s love.
The good and dependable:
This is the son who remains at home and has always been helpful. He feels slighted that the father is lavishing all goodies on the ingrate, but the father lets him know that he has always been loved but the return of the lost one has added even more value to the family. The church needs to care about the lost ones who return; new believers should not be rejected or looked down upon. Jesus values them, so should we. We should not see ourselves as any better than others, after all we too have only been sustained through Christ’s mercy and grace. It is recorded in the book of Lamentation 3:22 that “It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.” (KJV)
We serve a God of fairness who cares for the one who stays and the one who returns. He says we should not repay evil with evil. He loves us all and wants to give us sandals instead of walking bare-footed with wounded feet. The only danger is for one not to return. Return to Christ, He will receive you. In Mat. 11:28-30 Jesus would say, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (NRSV)