15 All the tax collectors and sinners were gathering around Jesus to listen to him. 2 The Pharisees and legal experts were grumbling, saying, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
3 Jesus told them this parable: 4 “Suppose someone among you had one hundred sheep and lost one of them. Wouldn’t he leave the other ninety-nine in the pasture and search for the lost one until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he is thrilled and places it on his shoulders. 6 When he arrives home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Celebrate with me because I’ve found my lost sheep.’ 7 In the same way, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who changes both heart and life than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need to change their hearts and lives.
8 “Or what woman, if she owns ten silver coins and loses one of them, won’t light a lamp and sweep the house, searching her home carefully until she finds it? 9 When she finds it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Celebrate with me because I’ve found my lost coin.’10 In the same way, I tell you, joy breaks out in the presence of God’s angels over one sinner who changes both heart and life.” – Luke 15:1-10 (CEB)
From time to time, as a pastor, I have a conversation with someone who feels they are too far off from God, that they’ve done too much bad stuff in life, and that there’s no way that God still loves them. They usually follow up with these or similar words, “Maybe God never loved me in the first place or maybe I don’t even believe in God anymore.”
I tell them, “I don’t believe in that god either.” I believe in the God most fully revealed to us in Jesus – The one who eats with the sinners and washes the feet of those who would betray him – That’s the God I need. After all my mistakes and sins, what I most deeply need to hear over and over again is that God still loves me, even though, even when – forever. Period.
That’s the definition of grace. God still loves you, even though you _______, and even when you _______. Get it?
Do you feel far off from God? Do you feel like God has never loved you, or couldn’t anymore? We’ve all felt that from time to time, even the deepest of believers and people of faith. Here’s the truth, and Jesus is the proof: God still loves you, always has, and always will.
Not once you get your life right or try harder, God loves you completely, right here, right now, today. Verses like these from Luke 15 are an incredible reminder of the lengths God will go to in order to remind you that God loves you. You are loved, even when you feel unlovable. That’s Grace for your daily grind.
Prayer: God, I don’t know why sometimes, but you, your love, you have never given up on me. Never. Thank you. Amen.