A father who runs
And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. | Luke 15:20b (NLT)
When you get to a certain age you can read this passage and relate to the characters: you are a son, father and brother. As a young man he wants to explore the world instead of feeling constrained in the father’s world. He wants a ‘gap year’ but is unwilling to either fund it himself or work his way. He shows a disregard to his father by demanding his share of the estate and his father gives in probably knowing that it will all end in tears but allowing his immature son to make his own mistakes.
Not long after the son leaves he is in dire straits having squandered his money on wild living. He has to hit rock bottom before he comes to his senses and decides to return to his father. What the son doesn’t realise is that his father has been watching and waiting for his return. Even though the son is a long way off the father sees him and runs to embrace him. The father is not interested in the son’s apology for being inconsiderate to him, he is delighted at his return. "For this son of mine was dead and is alive again, he was lost and is found."
God’s great love reaches out and finds us sinners no matter why or how we get lost. His love is constant and patient and welcoming. He will search for us and give us opportunities to respond but He will not force us to come to him. He waits patiently for us to come to our senses.
As for the elder brother he is angry and bitter that his wayward sibling can be so easily forgiven. We need to be certain that we ourselves don’t fall into this trap when new Christians that have had colourful pasts come into Church. Like God the Father, accept them wholeheartedly and give them the support and encouragement that they need to grow in Christ.