The Misunderstood Father

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Inspiration By New Creation Ministry — By J.C. Riley

Is God misunderstood? As you contemplate this question take a moment to consider the following:

Crusades that produced more graves than the earth could hold were done in the name of God

Wars of all kinds have been fought in the name of God

Suicides and mass murders have been carried out in the name of God

Insurance companies typically refer to tornadoes, hurricanes, hailstorms, etc. as ‘Acts of God’

In Jeremiah 4:22 the prophet wrote: “For My people are stupid and foolish,” [says the LORD to Jeremiah]; “They do not know Me; They are foolish children and have no understanding. They are shrewd [enough] to do evil, but they do not know [how] to do good.” Amp

When Phillip asked Jesus to reveal to him the Father, Jesus replied: “Have I been with you for so long a time, and you do not know Me yet, Philip, nor recognize clearly who I am? Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father?’ John 14:9 Amp

It is possible for to have heard about God, read about God and believed in God but still not know Him as He desires to be known?

In the parable located in Luke 15:11-32 we see a beautiful description of God the Father. Luke 15:1-3 tells us that Jesus’ audience was made up of tax collectors, sinners, Pharisees and Scribes. Verse two of the chapter reveals the atmosphere: “Both the Pharisees and the scribes began muttering and complaining, saying, ‘This man accepts and welcomes sinners and eats with them.’ ” This sets the scene for the parables that followed. Verses 3-7 tell about a shepherd who left ninety-nine sheep to rescue the wandering one and verses 8-10 were about a woman who had ten coins and invested all of her energy into locating the one that was lost. In each of these parables, Jesus seemed to be responding to the complaint of the Pharisees and Scribes. The third parable in this chapter is known as the Prodigal Son but there is more for us to learn here.

In short, there was a father who had two sons. The younger son requested his inheritance to be given to him and then he wasted it. After spending all he had he became so desperate that he resulted to feeding swine to make ends meet; he even desired the food the swine ate because he was so hungry. After deciding to return home verses 20-24 state: “So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with compassion for him and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe {for the guest of honor] and put it on him; and give him a [b]ring for his hand, and sandals for his feet. 2And bring the fattened calf and slaughter it and let us [invite everyone and] feast and celebrate; for this son of mine was [as good as] dead and is alive again; he was lost and has been found.’ So they began to celebrate.” The younger son’s misunderstanding was that he was not good enough. He thought his father would disown him because of his prodigal path yet he was embraced as a son and welcomed back into the home (presence) of his compassionate father.

The older son also received his inheritance but remained at home with his father. When his brother returned home, and his father celebrated with a party, the older son was angry because there was never a party thrown for him. After all, he had never dishonored his father’s name or broken any of his rules. This brother was in the right place (his father’s home) but wrong space (separated from his father). Verses 28,31-32 state: “But the elder brother became angry and deeply resentful and was not willing to go in; and his father came out and began pleading with him…The father said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. But it was fitting to celebrate and rejoice, for this brother of yours was [as good as] dead and has begun to live. He was lost and has been found.’”

Notice that the father pursued the older son who was out in the field and pleaded with him to enter into the house. This brother thought he was too good and deserved more than he had received. In addition to that, he had hatred for his younger brother’s actions but was unaware that they both fell short of honouring their father’s name. His view of their father was that good behaviour, regardless of motive and attitude, deserved to be rewarded.

How does this apply to us today? There are some who think they are not good enough to be received by God and there are others who think they are so righteous that they are owed something from God. I think there is a possibility that a little of both brothers exist in each of us. The Father wants to reconcile us to Himself. He is the Father who cares for all His children and desires us all to be in His presence. The younger son returned home, and this is the call to us today; to return (repent) to the Father who loves us too much to not attempt to win our loyalty. This is a God we can trust, and this is a God worth our worship.

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