Father Of The Lost 2 — Free Grace
Updated: Jun 1, 2020
Chan Gin Kai
“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! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 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.” (Luke 15:11-20)
We've explored in the last article how free will can be the cause of great pain or incredible beauty. Today, we shall look at how free grace has provided us redemption.
No More Shame
After literally ending up in the pig sty, the younger son came to his senses. Realising how wrong he was, how far he had fallen and how much he had hurt his father, he didn’t feel worthy to be his father’s son anymore.
But he longed to go back to his father and he was prepared to be a servant, knowing how kind his father was, even to lowly servants. To fill his stomach again, he’ll have to eat humble pie, and he was more than willing. To see his father again, he’ll have to pluck up courage, and face his shame.
As the son headed home, each step felt heavy under the weight of his guilt and shame. He must have worried about his father’s reaction to his disgrace. Will father forgive me after how terribly I’ve hurt him? Will he allow me to return after I’ve abandoned our family? How will he feel about the ways I’ve dishonoured myself and our name?
So he rehearsed what he was going to say to his father — the confession of his sins, admission of his unworthiness and request to be a servant.
While the son was still at a distance, the father saw him and ran to him. He didn’t throw a fist at his son, but “threw his arms around him”. He didn’t rebuke his son, but kissed him instead. The son had feared for nothing.
We’re like the son in many ways... we don't realise that we'll never need to feel ashamed with our father.
We’d imagined that we are strong, but get our confidence dashed. We’d thought that we are right and good, but get appalled by the ways we’ve fallen. Our egos get crushed and shame creeps in.
We get gutted by guilt when we should be compelled by contrition. We dwell in the dungeons of disgrace, when we can be lifted by the love of our Lord.
We mistake shame for brokenness, when it is self-pity in disguise. God desires a “broken and contrite heart” (Psalms 51:17). Contrition moves us to change while shame and guilt handicap us.
It is an irony that we are often trapped by shame when God is not ashamed of us. We are surprised by how badly we’ve fallen, but God has expected it and in fact prepared for it — Jesus has already died for us.
There is no shame because God loves us, and He longs for our return.
No Question Of Worthiness
“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
“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. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.” (Luke 15:21-24)
The son delivered the speech he had prepared. He confessed his sins and admitted his unworthiness. But before he could ask to be a servant, his father cut him off.
The son had no chance to “demote” himself from a worthy son to a lowly servant. The father didn’t even reply to the son’s admission of his unworthiness. Instead, he called for his servants to prepare a party.
Worthiness was never even a consideration for the father.
The son said, “I am no longer worthy”, as though he was worthy before. He never was. How does one become worthy to be a son or daughter? We didn’t become our parents’ children via a qualifying exam or won it in a contest. We didn’t work hard for it or pay for it. We became our parent’s children because they decided to have kids. They worked for it, we didn’t.
We think we’re not worthy to be God’s children because of our sins. The fact is, we weren’t worthy even when we were pure and innocent kids (and that’s got nothing to do with original sin). Adam and Eve weren’t worthy even BEFORE the first sin. God decided to create and love them, and so He did. Adam and Eve didn’t earn it.
We are merely a combination of atoms that God brought to life and chose to love. How are we ever going to be worthy enough for the Almighty Creator? And why do we worry about that when God doesn’t even care about it.
God cares about our righteousness, but that shouldn’t be misconstrued into caring about our worthiness. We are called to make every effort to repent and obey Him. But we’ll never be worthy, even if we’re perfectly righteous.
We’re don’t hover over an imaginary line of worthiness where we get “promoted” to deserving Christians when we are righteous, and lowly sinners each time we fall.
The father said, “this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found”. In the father’s eyes, he was still his son. We are NOT worthy or unworthy. We are dead or alive, lost or found. And we are always God’s children, period.
We can approach God with no shame, and we have no fear of unworthiness. This is what grace is — love undeserved, mercy unearned.
Read more about ‘Father Of The Lost’ and 'Slave Or Son':
Chan Gin Kai
Gin Kai is a film producer who believes in the power of media to inspire positive changes. He has spearheaded disaster relief and capacity building projects in impoverished communities across Asia. He serves actively in the Central Christian Church and describes himself as “just a sinner who wants to get right with God”.