“When he came to his senses… So he got up and went to his father. But while he 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 16:17-20
When we look and see all of the hate and sin there is around us we can’t help but be a little frightened. Often after just a few minutes of watching the six o’clock news we will have heard the majority of the Ten Commandments broken somewhere. At times we Christians bow up and point a very religious finger towards those who are out in the world sinning. “You had better change or you are going to bust hell wide open!” is the cry often coming from the camp of the redeemed.
Let me fill you in on something that may amaze you. Are you ready? Sinner’s sin! That’s right, murders murder, thieves steal, drug addicts take drugs and in general, bad people do bad things. All to often, when we run into these folks we tend to either whack them over the head with our Bible’s or speak to them with such religious language that they run, for fear of turning into something or someone they just know they could never live with. We feel obligated to tell them on the outside what only the Spirit can really reveal to them on the inside.
Until people come to their senses, that is, until they really understand what or Who they are missing, it is likely they will never come. If they do come without an experiential knowledge of the One who “so loved” them and if they are not taught about this love, they might very well run to the next best offer that comes around! The problem as I see it is that so often we hear of how loving God is, but our demonstration of that love is many times a whole different thing. I remember the old Black preacher saying once, and I fully agree, that some things are “better felt then telt!”
Just think about this for a minute. We live in a day where divorce runs 50% or more and where the role of “dad” or “father” has been reduced to little more than someone who brings home a check (if even that). Not to mention the negative portrayal of father’s on TV sitcoms. So many kids’ today have to compete with dad’s mistresses. You know them; sporting events, work, the couch, the remote, the boy’s, and more! Oh boy, I can here one calling me right now…..
Anyway, with all the negative press on dad’s today is it little wonder that so many cringe when they think about this other Father we call God? For example, imagine how a woman who has been abused by a father during her childhood might react when she is told that Jesus is the way to the Father. For the scores of women who have suffered the tragedy of sexual or other abuse, it is little wonder that coming to another “Father” is a thought that brings up all kinds of negative emotions for which they struggle to deal with!
When we were in Korea in April of this year I taught three different classes of from 40 to over 100 for a week each on the subject of the Father’s Love. Each class was made up of stay at home moms, career women, wealthy businessmen and other professionals as well as folks who just wanted to learn more about the Lord. I was warned before I started that these folks were very opened to and wanting of affirmation and genuine expressions of love.
I was also told that women in that country were often dominated and controlled by fathers or father figures and that there were so many pressures on both men and women to succeed in their very competitive society.
On one night in each class I had the entire class stand and line up in single file. I told them that I was going to stand up at the front of the class and have each of them come for a word of affirmation and a father’s embrace as well as my wife standing in for a mother’s embrace. I must tell you that at first this seemed just plain weird, but I will never forget what happened!
The result was the same in all three classes. A few took their hug and blessing and went back to their seat. Most came with tears flowing down their cheeks. For so many, both men and women, they broke down and wept uncontrollably as perhaps for the first time they were held by a father figure or mother figure and told how much they were loved, appreciated and wanted. When I would tell the men how proud I was of them and how special they were most began to weep uncontrollably.
You see, most of us have been raised with love with a hook. That is, love that is mostly expressed as a reward for being or doing something good or right. Our Heavenly Father DOES NOT love in this way! It was because of His Love for us before the foundations of the world, long before we had ever sinned, that He sent Christ to die for us. While we were yet in sin He loved us. He was able to see our beginning and end and everything in between, and still love us. That, my friend, is true unconditional love.
We can use every method of evangelism there is today (and should) and win some, but I am convinced that for most to “come to their senses” they need to be able to reference the Love of the Father and KNOW that they can come to Him without fear of condemnation or rejection! Remember, this love is better “felt than telt!”
I want to challenge us this week. Let’s find that someone who is anything but a Christian and doing everything opposed to what our faith tells us is right, and just love them. No preaching or condemning, but just simply loving them without a hook. Not entering into their sin, but just letting them know that regardless of their sin we are going to love them just like our Father loved us! Let’s see how many we can really win.