Summary: A series on Luke 15
LOST AND FOUND!
“What is God Like?”
What is God really like? Some people think the most important question of life is “Do you believe in God?” But a more important question is “What kind of God do you believe in?” There is something worse than being an atheist - it is believing in God, but having an erroneous concept of God. There are many religions in the world that present many differing pictures of God and they all may contain a little truth. A stopped clock is right twice a day, but actually a broken clock is worse than no clock at all because it gives you misleading information. You can believe in God, but if you have a false conception of God, you are no better off than an atheist.
What is God really like? Is He the God of the Muslim terrorists? Is God really named Allah and does he reward murdering terrorists who highjack airplanes and kill innocent people? Does He want all the infidels killed, even if it means strapping a bomb to your body and killing yourself? Is God like the impersonal god of the Deists? Deism teaches God created the world like a watchmaker, and then he wound it up and started it. But now, he sits by uncaring or unable to get involved in what is happening in lives of individuals. Hinduism teaches there are a number of gods and goddesses, but the greatest god is Brahmin, the impersonal but all pervasive life force in every person. The New-Agers teach god is the life force in everything, that’s why they can worship trees, crystals, and even themselves. Is that what God is like? Is He Allah? Is He a watchmaker God? Is He Brahmin? Is the good side of the Force in the Star Wars movies?
Jesus Christ came to planet earth to show us exactly what God is like. In Luke 15, He shares three beautiful stories that paint a portrait of the character and nature of God. Last week we looked at the lost sheep and the lost coin. Today let’s look at the story of the lost son. Read Luke 15:11-24.
Although this is often called the parable of the Prodigal Son, the key figure in the parable is the Father. I prefer to call it the Parable of the Loving Father. Jesus is teaching us that the God of the Universe is like the father in this story. It’s not enough to believe in God; you must understand the nature of the God Jesus came to introduce. The wonder and beauty of the character of God can be easily seen in this beautiful parable. We can learn three important things about God. We worship:
1. A GOD WHOSE HEART BREAKS OVER YOUR REBELLION.
In the story, the younger son demanded to receive his inheritance although his father is still alive. According to Jewish law, a father who had two sons was to leave 2/3 of his estate to his older son and 1/3 to his younger son. This younger son came to his dad and said, “I know you’re gonna’ drop dead someday, but I don’t want to wait–give it to me now.” The Father was wounded by this harsh demand, but he granted it. He probably had to take some time to sell some of his land or livestock or liquidate other assets, but he eventually comes up with 1/3 of his net worth and hands it to his younger son. Immediately the son takes the money and runs. He walks out of his father’s life and heads for the “far country.” Here is a perfect example of a rebellious, disrespectful child. We can tell from the way he welcomed him back that the Father’s heart was broken when his son left home. I think the father shed many tears over his son’s foolish behavior.
Clearly, the Father in this parable represents God. He is a loving Father who will let you walk away from fellowship with Him if you desire, but it breaks His Fatherly heart when you do. But whom does the prodigal son represent? Some people say he represents a person who has never been saved, but I think it’s obvious the younger son represents those of us who already have a relationship with God. He is our Father and we are His children. There’s a very important principle you must understand. You cannot sever your relationship with God–but you can certainly break fellowship with Him. The whole time the prodigal son was away, he was still a son, but He had left the presence and favor of his Father. Christians can do that, too. Once you become a Christian, God establishes a love relationship with you. He is your Father and nothing can ever change that. But if you choose to rebel and disobey the Father, He’ll allow it. He will never leave you, but if you walk out of fellowship with Him–He will let you go.