In Luke 15, Jesus presents a picture of God as the loving father waiting for his rogue son to return. The father is not passively waiting, he is actively searching the horizon for sight of the son who was lost to him.
Contrast that picture with the idea of a vengeful God who is waiting to smite anyone and everyone who breaks his laws.
Certainly, the church is culpable in this in that we have misrepresented the very God we claim to worship. Too often the church has propagated rather than dispelled the idea that God is out to get sinners for their disobedience.
Other parts of the church have gone the far opposite extreme and presented God as accepting everyone on any terms. The idea of a Biblical standard of moral conduct is fluid and subject to the prevailing opinion of the surrounding culture.
So how do we find a balance?
In reading Romans a few days ago, I was struck by this verse:
“Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” (Romans 2:4, ESV)
God is loving, kind, forbearing and patient. But these are also tempered by his holiness. He is the loving father waiting for the prodigal to return but he is still the father and manager of his domain.
We do well to emphasize the kindness of God. But that emphasis should lead us to repentance and not further rebellion (Tweet This).
In the story in Luke 15, one gets the sense that the relationship between the son and father has been restored. The son came to realize his stupidity in wasting his life and resources. The restoration of the relationship would not have caused a return of the rebellious attitude that had previously separated the father and son.
It was the kindness and goodness of the father that made the repentance of the son possible.
In the same way, we need to present God as the loving father who is waiting for all of us to turn to him. But our turning to him is initiated by our repentance. With proper understanding of the kindness and the holiness of God, repentance is the only reasonable response.
God’s kindness should lead us to repentance.