One common religious misconception about Christianity is that God works like karma. Do good things and God is happy with you. He’ll call you his child and let you live in heaven. Do bad things, though, and he’s going to get you. He’ll give you cancer, make your life miserable, and send you to hell. Do you ever think of God that way?
Jesus knew that people think of God like karma. That’s one of the things he addressed in a story we often call the prodigal son. Jesus told the story to teach us about God. A father had a son who took the inheritance early, wasted it with wild living, and then came crawling back to his father begging to be his servant. Everyone would have expected the father to chew his son out and make his son prove himself first before giving him anything else. They would have expected Jesus to describe God like karma. But that’s not God!
Instead, the father welcomed his son and threw him a party. He was delighted to see him, even if he lost all his money and acted like a fool. Jesus showed us that God loves his children—always. God welcomes his children back—always. God delights in his children—always. We can’t say that for those who don’t believe in Jesus, but those who trust in him stand securely in God’s acceptance.
Have you messed up lately? Are you ashamed of things you’ve said and done over the past week (or past years)? Are you wondering what God’s thinking about you now? If you believe in Jesus, God’s still smiling on you. His forgiveness isn’t spent. He is filled with compassion and calls you his child. He’s not mad.
He loves you.
“While [the son] was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him” (Luke 15:20).
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