In the story of the prodigal son Jesus presents a father who responds to his rebellious son differently than any one would expect.
The son who loved himself more than his father and who ran toward rebelliousness returns home broken, repentant, and humbled. The father runs to him and wraps him in his arms and in his love and then throws a feast in honor of his son’s return.
Jesus reveals something to us in this story not only about our own tendency to run from the Father toward self fulfillment, but about the Father himself. He shows us that the Father loves us and gives us a home regardless of whether we deserve it. We are His beloved children whom He rejoices over when we return home. That’s what it means to be be the beloved. He loves us not because of anything we’ve done (like the older brother might like to believe), but because he loves us.
The story of the prodigal son is a great story. It’s even better when we realize that it’s our story! This is how our Father has responded to us. In love. That’s the invitation of the Gospel. That we get to come home!
This tremendous outpouring of Love can be difficult for us. What are we supposed to do with it? How are we supposed to respond? This chapter proposes that we begin with thankfulness. If you want to experience being the Father’s beloved child, start with gratefulness and watch how he transforms you into a child who celebrates being back home with the Father.
1. Think about the story of Rick’s son who was given a car. He received it freely, but often when we receive a gift we twist it into something we have to earn or repay. Do you feel guilty or grateful for the free grace you have received from God?
2. On page 77 Rick says, “If we took a test, we would likely say that God is good and loving. But if we’re being honest, we would have to admit that we often don’t feel as if God even likes us.” When we start there, we don’t have freedom because we start with a lie about who God is. What are some of the lies you have believed about who God is?
3. Think about the parable of the prodigal son and this quote from Rick: “You are not good or bad at being the beloved.You simply are the beloved of the Father, whether lost or found” (81). What inspires you about this story?
4. In that parable we see the prodigal son act in two completely different ways. The first time we see him, he is athome with his father who loves him, but he runs away from it all toward rebellion. At the end of the story we see the same son as one who returns humbled and grateful to be near the father. What are you currently running to?
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