The Joyful God

As a 5-year-old, I remember running away one night, when I didn’t get my way. Now it wasn’t that dramatic, because I just went across the street to my aunt and uncle’s. I packed up all my important belongings (toys) and marched across the street. Mom was certain I would come home soon; yet to her surprise, I stayed gone all night. The last I remember of this childish expedition is waking up the next morning and actually wanting to go home (I might have cried). I don’t remember the welcome I received but I am sure I was embraced just like the prodigal son when he returned (though I don’t remember a party). 

We glanced through the climax of the parable earlier but let’s revisit the father’s response. And as you read this, remember Jesus is teaching us how God responds when sinners repent. 

“And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him … But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.” (Luke 15:20, 22-24)

Nobody naturally pictures God like this. It is much easier to think of Him as scary, far off, grumpy, and barking out rules. Or others may easily picture Him as loving but in a weak and generic sense, like the way we love food. Yet Jesus wants us to get our God questions answered correctly. Yes, He is holy and just; but He is far from grumpy. He rejoices when we repent. There is joy before the angels when one sinner repents (Luke 15:7, 10), because God is a joyful God. Read that again, God is a joyful God.

This is one of the many truths about God that should transform our lives. It should make us quick to repent (Romans 2:4), quick to forgive, and joyful when others repent. And it should make us hopeful for both ourselves and others.

So let me ask. How will this truth shape your life? How will it affect the grace you offer to a world in need of repentance, forgiveness, and hope?

By Philip Jones






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