Jesus tells us in Matthew 7:9-12
9 Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone? 10 Or if the child asks for a fish, will give a snake? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him! 12 “In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.”
It certainly sounds like everyone was certainly very nice back in Jesus’ time. No child abuse then! Life isn’t that easy now. Plenty of parents are abusive. “Dysfunctional” is the new normal.
So how can you possibly even approach the idea of God the Father if your own father was a jerk? There are plenty of parents who give their children stones instead of bread and snakes instead of fishes. We read about them in the paper. We hear about them on the talk shows. They are the reason we have a Department of Human Services.
No wonder people don’t believe in God. They can’t possibly believe in God when their own parents abuse them. Their visible example of parents is horrible, so how can they get the idea of an invisible parent? If God is bigger and greater than your parents, then who would want a bigger and greater example of terrible?
Perhaps this is why so many people who call themselves Christians feel that “God hates…” (fill in the blank). God doesn’t hate. God loves. Perhaps they heard their parents tell them they weren’t worthy, they weren’t valuable, they weren’t loved. So they took the next logical step and decided if their own parents acted like this, then God did it more so.
But this isn’t God. God seeks us out. God searches for us, individually, like the lost sheep, like the lost coin, like the lost son. God cares about us personally and deeply.
It might be helpful to throw away the notion of God as being just like our parents, but more so. God is love, perfected. God created us because we are needed. None of us are accidents. We are all wanted.
Let us hear the words of Jesus in Luke 15:1-24
First He tells us about the lost sheep.
1Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. 2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” 3 Then Jesus told them this parable: 4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.
Then He goes on to tell us about the lost coin.
8 “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? 9 And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ 10 In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
Then He tells us about the lost son.
11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them. 13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. 17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 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. 21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate.24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.”
Jesus tells us three stories, but they are all the same story. They are the story of God’s relentless, unfailing love for us. God is constantly seeking us. God is above and beyond our human conception of love. God is the source of love, and the source of us.
Know that you are loved, beyond measure.