When I think about living the Christian life, I am reminded of what Christ teaches in the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32).
The young man in the story blew his inheritance on foolish living. When he returned home, broke and humiliated, he feared that his father would disown him or, if he were merciful, hire him as a servant. Instead, his father loved him and celebrated his return, rejoicing that his lost son was now found. Love was central to this exchange: a benevolent, Christlike bond between a father and his son.
Jesus urges us to emulate the love of this father, not only toward our own children, but toward everyone in our lives. The two greatest commandments, Jesus says, are to love God with all of our hearts, and to love our fellow man as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:36-40). That’s easier said than done for most of us!
Judgement, selfishness, and pride can be our greatest obstacles. We’re often eager to point out flaws in others while ignoring the sin in our own lives. That’s what the elder son in the parable did. He begrudged his father for his loving treatment of his foolish younger brother. But if we step back and love first with a heart like Jesus, then we can be a force that brings souls to Christ and models Christianity-in-action to our communities.
How do we learn to replace judgement with grace and love?
Not long ago, I had a conversation with Pastor John Burke on the Focus on the Family Broadcast. Pastor Burke shared stories from his own life that illustrate how everyone of us sitting in a pew can love the prodigals in our lives as Christ does.
John Burke’s book Unshockable Love: How Jesus Changes the World Through Imperfect People is available for a gift of any amount. For more information, visit our website or call 1-800-A-FAMILY (232-6459).