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Luke 15

When I was a kid, my friends’ dads always seemed cooler than mine. The father of my friend next door was a wealthy entrepreneur back in the 1980s. He drove an Audi turbo and had one of the first mobile phones in the United Kingdom. When he invited me over to play ping pong or video games, it was like a day at Disney World for someone who’s family lived from hand to mouth.

I sometimes feel like Christians interact with God that way, like he’s someone else’s father, who just happens to be nice once in a while. When reading Luke 15, what strikes me is the older brother’s disconnection from his father.

Given the father’s overflowing grace and his ability to show affection, it’s obvious that the older brother’s life of servitude and rule-keeping was entirely self-imposed. He believed he had to earn his father’s love. As a result, he was dominated by anger, resentment and the same spirit of competition and comparison that ruled Cain’s heart during the first murder in history.

As Christians, we won’t experience the full freedom and joy of the Christian life until we stop striving to earn God’a approval of us. Christ’s death for us gives us the spirit of adoption as true “sons of the father” (Galatians 4:6). We don’t need a special invite to enjoy life in the household of God.

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