Last week the most influential author in my life died, Brennan Manning. I only met and talked with him once, but he has deeply mentored me through his writings. The golden thread that wove through all his messages and writings is this, “God loves you just as you are, not as you should be.” I like to change it to, “My Father loves me just as I am, not as I should be.”
When I think of this unbelievable good news, my mind always goes back to Luke 15 and the parable of the prodigal son. It illustrates it beautifully. With his rebellion and rejection of his father having ruined his life and now in his mind defining him, the prodigal has no hope of his father ever loving him again. But he knows he needs help and so as a last resort, plans to return home and say to his father, “I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your servants.” Dan Cruver says that the prodigal is returning home thinking of his father as his master and not as his father. He plans to return home as a wage-earner hoping to earn his way back into his father’s love.
Sinclair Ferguson writes that we have the same suspicion as the prodigal–that it is impossible for the Father to love us. And so we return to him as our master and not our Father. But the good news the prodigal experienced is the same good news we can experience, “Our Father loves us just as we are, not as we should be.”