The Impacts of Grace: #1 My Perception of God

Posted by donna on September 9, 2019

What sets Christianity apart from any other religious system is the relational nature and character of God. He wants to be in relationship with us. We were created to have relationship with Him, and He celebrates when we do. Jesus tells us, “there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance” (Luke 15:7).  Sept blog.jpg

The Parable of the Prodigal as told by Jesus is about grace and highlights how grace impacts us in three ways. First, it impacts our perception of God. We all easily identify or self-identify with one of the main characters in the parable. If we are honest, it would be with the elder son. Too often, our perception of God is that He is only pleased with us when we obey the rules and "colour within the lines” as required by religious obedience and observance and, therefore, we are deemed a good person. 

We receive grace when as needy sinful people we come to our senses, recognize our error, repent and freely receive the grace and forgiveness God offers. However, after that, if we are not careful, a subtle shift may occur, and we can quickly move from grace to law. Pleasing God and being accepted by God then shifts to what I do, what I say, how I look and dress, what translation of the Bible I use, how often I show up for church, etc. Sound familiar? We become the elder son. Grace trumps that.

The relational nature of God is often expressed in human terms as in the relationship between a child and father. However, for many, the idea of God as our Heavenly Father is a difficult one.  In a world of broken families, abusive, violent, angry or absentee fathers, the idea of a loving Heavenly Father can be tough to grasp. Grace addresses that.

“It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive, he was lost, and is found” (Luke 15:32). The Parable of the Prodigal ends on a positive note. It was “fitting,” it was right and necessary to celebrate the return of the younger son because grace invites the lost, the religious, and the spiritually dead to be reconciled in a true and right relationship with the Father. This is not cheap and easy grace. The grace offered by God the Father was costly. It was, and is, freely offered, but it must be accepted. Repentance is, and must be, the response to the grace offered. When we begin to understand the futility of our own moralism as the way to please God, we then begin to see the nature of God through His grace.

For the elder son, his perception of his father was that he should somehow judge the younger son. He thought his brother should pay for his error, his sin, his failings. This lines-up with a view of God the judge, God the merciless. But it is the nature of the father who waits, anticipating and longing for the return of the younger son that gives us clues to the nature and character of God. And it is the father’s actions that confirm this nature; “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion (insert: LOVE), and ran and embraced him, and kissed him” (Luke 15:20).

The elder son objected, became angry and refused to forgive and love. The father went to him, affirming his love and his security in the family. The final words from the father say it all; “it is fitting to celebrate and be glad . . .” (Luke 15:32).

Our perception of God is changed through grace. We see the compassionate heart of a loving Father longing to have a true and right relationship with all His children, including you and me!

Thankful for our Heavenly Father,

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Bill Allan
AGC President                                                                                                                         

Cliquez sur le lien ci-dessous pour la version Française: Blogue de Bill Septembre 2019