During our second Monday night theme talk of the summer, Project Director, Emma Button gave a talk titled, “An Imperishable Smile”. At the beginning of the talk, Emma asked all of us the question, “If Jesus were to walk into this room right now, walk up to you and stand right in front of you; what would His face be when He was looking at you?” I think that this is a question that people like to avoid because it automatically begs other questions like; would his face be one of disappointment? Shame? Anger? Sadness? Regret? Joy? Satisfaction?  I am confident a different word rang in everyone’s ear for different reasons; everyone’s reason led them to their answer of the question, “What does God think of me?”

I know that when I hear this question, immediately all the mistakes I have made, the ways I have fallen short, and the ways I have loved the world more than I have loved the Father flood my mind. I am convicted of my sin that tells me I (and everyone else) am a guilty criminal that needs to be punished. Emma gave us a definition of Justification which is: a legal declaration in which God pardons the sinner of all his sin and counts the sinner as righteous in His sight. Thinking about this truth almost makes me uncomfortable because this love is unlike any love we will experience on this side of Heaven. In the midst of justification, the Lord sees all of our sin and knows our deceitful hearts fully, yet STILL chooses to forgive us of our sin, and count us righteous in His sight.

During the talk, we took a look at Luke 15:11-32, The Parable of the Prodigal Son.

 

In this story, the younger son squanders away the inheritance his father has gifted him, and full of shame comes back home to his father for help. When the son reaches his father he says (15:21), “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am not longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants”. The Father, however, responds with grace saying (15: 22-24), “’Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate, for this my son was dead, and is alive again: he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate”.

The older son, upon hearing of his brothers return, responds with pride and envy. He says (15: 28- 29), “but he answered his Father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!”

 

It is clear the both sons missed the main point: the heart of their father.

I left this talk understanding on a deeper level that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is simultaneously not about me at all, yet completely about me. There is not and never will be anything I can do to earn this type of justification. There is not and never will be anything I can to do deserve this type of love. Jesus in His immense love for me and all of humanity chose to love us this way. Jesus chose to stand up in the court room, right as the judge was about the charge us as criminals guilty of the sin we have committed, and He said, “Don’t punish her/him. I’ll take the punishment for their sin”.

It doesn’t matter where you have been, how far your heart has wandered, what shame or pride from your past you carry around with you; our Father will always, with open arms, joyfully welcome you back to Him.

 

So…  this brings us back to the original question; what does God think of us?

1. God is satisfied

Because of the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross, the wrath of God has been satisfied. The only thing that is left for us to do is receive God’s tender love.

2. God is generous

 He transforms us and makes us into a new creation in Him. He did not need to leave heaven- in fact, God does not need us at all. But He wants us and so He died on the cross for us.

A desire that is innate in all human beings is the desire to be fully known and fully loved. This desire is perfectly satisfied in Jesus.

3. God is happy with you

God is glad that He saved us. He doesn’t hold anything against us and keeps no record of our wrongs. God freely chose to bring us in as an ingredient to divine happiness.

 


Reflection Questions:

-       Are you like the younger or older brother?

-       What is keeping you from accepting God’s grace for you in this moment?

 

Taylor Wolf, Senior

Bethel University

2019 STP Communications Intern

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