Monday, December 6, 2010
What You Think God Thinks About You When He Thinks About You
I did church via TV yesterday morning, listening to Andy Stanley from Northpoint Community Church in Georgia. He took my favorite parable (The Prodigal Son) and presented it from a viewpoint I hadn't seen before. I'm not sure I can do it justice here, so I'm including the link so you can listen to it yourself. Let me just say my eyes were opened yet again.
Pastor Stanley reminded us that when Jesus told this parable, His audience included Pharisees, scribes, publicans (tax collectors), and sinners. First He told the story of the the lost sheep and the lost coin, and you might say he was warming up his audience. His listeners could understand going after a lost sheep and looking for a lost coin. Then he began this story of the boy who wanted his inheritance early and then spent it on wine, women, and other stuff the boy shouldn't even get close to. Understandably, he ran through the money and soon was in dire straights. He wound up working for (and put yourself into the Jewish mindset here) the lowest of the low, a pig farmer. Can't you just see even the tax collectors cringing?
Then the boy comes to his senses, realizing his fathers servants are better fed and clothed than he is, and decides he will go home and ask his father's forgiveness--and then ask for a job. He rehearses his speech all the way home.
To his surprise, his father runs to meet him--probably had been watching for him--and puts a robe around his shoulders, sandals on his feet, a ring for his finger, and orders that calf killed they had been saving for a special occasion. The boy tried to give his father the speech he'd memorized, but his father was so overjoyed to see him again he probably didn't even hear it.
Here's where Jesus' audience probably started murmuring among themselves. This boy didn't deserve to be welcomed back. They were all in agreement with the boy's angry brother. But this is what God thinks of you when He thinks of you--He doesn't look at the sin that covers you. He doesn't look at how good you've been or how much you give or your well you do your job. He just sees you as His beloved son or daughter. It's not what you DO, but that you are WITH Him.
It's not the DOING that's important to Him, it's the BEING WITH Him that He notices.
Now, there's a lot I left out of Pastor Stanley's sermon. I hope you'll go to the link and listen for yourself. It's one of the best sermons I've ever heard.