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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?

Two Sons
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.

Sad Story
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."

Surprise Ending
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 man!

Another Story
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.

But Wait!
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
here.

 

   
   
   
   
 

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Love Letter photo used with permission of Rian Houston