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.
Once, I confessed my sin to a church member and she responded, “I can’t believe you did that.” I walked away with more shame than before. How do churches make space for sinners who need repentance? Is this space safe or threatening, loving or judging, compassionate or punishing, rejoicing or shaming? Jesus said, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:32). He also said, “I tell you there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15:10) A beautiful picture of how to welcome a repenting child of God is painted in the way the father received his prodigal son. Step into this father’s shoes. He had no choice but to let go of his son although he really wanted to keep him near and help him. He must have felt extreme pain and guilt, not knowing where his son was or what he was doing. No matter what, this father always had a loving space for his son to return. He saw his son from afar. Overcome with joy and compassion, he did not wait for his son to get to him. He ran, embraced, and kissed his returning son. Is there a loving space with grace in your church for sinners to repent and return for restoration and renewal?
Gracious God, please give us a repenting heart and a loving space to return to in our church.
In Jesus’ Name we pray. Amen.