Welcome Home!

February 10th, 2013
Image © by Mai Le | Flickr | Used under Creative Commons license.

For those of us privileged to be called into Christian discipleship there is a work of grace in our lives that transcends the heights and plumbs the depths of our being as we never thought possible. Not only are we forgiven all that separates us from God—past, present, future, and whether or not we are to blame. We are also reconciled to God in a new relationship that can best be described in two words: Welcome Home!

An Invitation Extended from the Cross

It was the purpose of Jesus' ministry to extend this invitation from God to the whole of the human race, and supremely from the cross. His sacrifice made clear how serious is the human predicament, and how lethal. No rationalization, no self-justification, could ever again disguise the awful reality of human sin. For those who represented us two thousand years ago, it may have been a matter of mistaken identity. For God, it was a matter of life and death.

Grace and Resistance

When we look at the cross and remember our own spiritual homecoming, we realize how much God was willing to risk, and continues to risk, to have us back home. God will always grant the freedom to accept this gracious invitation or refuse it, and since the basic nature of human sin is resistance to grace, God is graciously vulnerable to our repeated rejections, and often our abuse.

The Anguish of a Parental God

We can all recall what it is like to be rejected by anyone, even by a stranger. Much worse is the pain of rejection by a relative or a friend. If God is parental, as Jesus taught, we can only begin to imagine the divine anguish inflicted by this wayward human household throughout its history.

Think of it. Not only one prodigal, but countless millions of daughters and sons across the centuries who have lived their lives away from their true home, alienated from their true family, suffering from the ravages of human sin, and especially those who have been sinned against. How much grief and torment has this heaped on a God more loving and protective than any human mother, more trustworthy and honorable than any human father. At least, so Jesus would have us believe. Why else did he die on the cross?

The Joy of Surrender

This is what makes our surrender to God's grace, our acceptance of God's invitation to come home, such a joyous occasion. It is the relief of giving up on a pointless struggle, the lifting of an impossible burden. Never mind what we would like to do with our lives, the reality is that we are God's family, and we are now back home where we belong.

Empty Places

Even so, our joy remains guarded. We know that the homecoming celebration has not yet begun in earnest. There are still empty places at the table. There are sinners who still need to come to their senses. There are millions of God's family still without enough to eat. There are countless little ones of God still being sinned against with all the demonic ingenuity of a prodigal human race.

We must help Christ invite them home, dry their tears and heal their wounds. At least, so Jesus would have us do. Why else be his disciples?

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