|Our True Home
Yes, there's no place like home. Even though the place we call home may
change over the years, it is still - or should be - a place of welcome,
comfort and retreat. And if you have had the experience of returning to a
childhood home after a long absence, you know the meaning of that phrase
in a different sense. But there is a sense in which each of us has the
same home; that is, we were each made to live in fellowship with the same
father - God. Although God wants all of us to spend eternity with Him in
His home - heaven - He also wants us to begin to enjoy being the son of a
rich, loving father, right here and now. This thought poses two questions.
Are you at home with God? And, are you enjoying the privileges of being at
home with God?
Jesus told a story recorded in Luke 15. Familiar to many who don't know
much else about the Bible, it has been called the Story of the Prodigal
Son. The story starts by describing a father and two sons. The younger son
decides he wants to 'get off the farm' and see what the world has to
offer, so he asked for his inheritance, took it and left.
We aren't told the sordid details, but Jesus said the younger son
'squandered his estate with loose living.' When the money was gone,
apparently all his 'friends' deserted him and he found himself with an
empty stomach and no one offering to fill it. He got a job feeding pigs,
and even the hog feed looked good to him! When the hunger pangs got strong
enough, his brain got the message and suddenly he saw his situation in a
new light. "Here I am starving, while all my father's hired men are eating
well. I'm going to go home and confess my foolishness to my father. I know
I don't have the right to be considered a son, but maybe he will take me
on as a hired man."
When the wandering son got close to home, however, he was shocked to find
his father running to greet him with a loving embrace. Before the son
could get half way through his speech, the father called for a party to
celebrate his son's return. Not to celebrate bringing on another hired
But there is another son, and another part to the story. Jesus tells us
that when the elder son heard all the commotion and learned the cause of
it, he refused to take part. Even his father's entreaties wouldn't change
his mind. "I've always stayed at home and worked hard, and you haven't had
any parties for me! But let my worthless brother come crawling home after
blowing it all, and you call for a celebration!" The story ends with the
father reminding the elder son that all the father had was his, but that
he couldn't help but celebrate the return of a son who, in the father's
eyes, had been both lost and dead.
Who are We?
If we are honest, most of us see ourselves as
the wandering son, looking other places to find people, possessions or
activities that will satisfy our deep needs. Even if we don't recognize
it, the Bible says we are all like that younger son, having wandered far
from God, without resources. But at some point, perhaps, we have
recognized our spiritual poverty and hunger and come to God in repentance.
He has never failed to welcome such a one as His child. He makes us His
children, not because we deserved it, but purely by His grace. That is
explained in more detail here.
Jesus was speaking of the Pharisees when he talked of
the elder brother. They thought they were good sons of God because they
rigidly followed all the rules, but had no compassion for
self-acknowledged sinners who came to God in repentance. But I believe
this story can have another application to those of us who know we are
God's sons and daughters We can display some of the qualities of the
older brother, particularly his lack of enjoyment of his status as the son
of a wealthy man. Without leaving home, we can have a heart that isn't
enjoying our status in the family. We aren't told why the elder brother
hadn't been enjoying any of his father's vast resources. Maybe that is so
we won't dismiss him just because we don't have his specific problem.
Missing His Love
It is possible for us to know without a doubt that we
are trusting in Christ's death on the cross for our forgiveness and
relationship to God, but be 'rules oriented' and let our self-efforts
become part of the basis of continuing acceptance by God. This can happen
subtly, without our being aware of it. And if it does, we end up missing
much of what God tells us in His Word about His free, unfettered love and
what He wants it to mean to us in our daily outlook on the future. Imagine
a 18-year old boy leaving home for college but asking his father, "I'm
trying to plan out my life. What do I need to do so that you will include
me in your will?" The father will probably reply, "What do you mean? You
don't need to do anything. You're my son!"
Resting in Who We Are
Like any good father, God must be grieved when His
children start trying to earn what is already theirs as a gift - their
very status as God's children. It is unlikely we will relax and enjoy the
benefits of being God's children if we feel we need to do something to
continue earning that privilege. Instead, we are likely to develop an
attitude that God isn't doing enough for us, exactly what the elder
brother expressed. God has told us repeatedly, by word and illustration,
that we received and retain our relationship with Him purely by His grace.
There is much we can and should do out of gratitude for His love, but
nothing we can do to earn His continuing favor as His children. He yearns
for you to start really enjoying your home! Read it in His own words