ODJ: Unexpected

April 7, 2018 

READ: Luke 15:1-10 

In the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents (v.10).

Golf, with its myriad rules and special victor jackets, is marked by tradition and sportsmanship. But feuds between golfers can be surprisingly bitter, perhaps few more so than the rift between Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia. So when Garcia won his first major tournament in 2017, commentators expected Woods to scoff and point out how his own accomplishments dwarfed his rival’s. But instead, he tweeted brief but sincere congratulations to Garcia, calling the victory “well-earned”. One can only wonder how Garcia reacted to this unexpected response!

God’s exuberant response to the return of sinners might also surprise us. He invests greatly in bringing even one sinner back to Himself, like a shepherd who leaves an entire flock behind to find one lost sheep (Luke 15:4) or a woman who turns her entire house upside down to find a lost coin (v.8). Who knows what that person may have been doing prior to their return—perhaps wasting their entire inheritance on wild living? (v.13). I know I would feel more than a little bitter if a child of mine wasted an inheritance, and it’s not hard to imagine God feeling the same way.

But that’s not how God responds. According to this passage, there’s nothing less than a celebration whenever someone returns to God (vv.6,9). And this party theme is repeated again in the parable of the lost son, where the father spares no expense to celebrate his son returning home alive (vv.22-24). As hard as it can be for us to believe, God’s response to our repentance is crystal clear: pure joy.

How often we hesitate to repent and return to our Father because we fear His wrath or judgement. The truth is, a party breaks out in heaven whenever anyone turns back to Him!

—Peter Chin

365-day plan: 2 Samuel 13:1-19

Read Psalm 51:12 to remember that the joy of salvation comes alongside repentance from sin. 
Do you think of God more as an angry judge or a rejoicing parent? Why? What will help you to see God as He’s portrayed in these parables?