Humanity tends to project its own faulty habits onto God. Consider how God’s love is often seen: Many people assume we must barter, plead, or try hard to earn the Lord’s favor. But as the Prodigal Son learned, the Father’s love is unconditional.
The wayward boy returned home, not expecting to be loved as before; all he hoped for was a place among the family’s servants. Imagine the son’s delight at his dad’s greeting of a hug and a celebration. The boy’s actions surely didn’t merit an outpouring of affection, but Jesus’ parable is all about a Father who doesn’t give people what they deserve.
A love based on conduct would keep people wondering, Have I done enough? Instead, God cares for you simply because you’re you, and He expects nothing in return. Consider the Prodigal’s life after his homecoming party. He didn’t move into the servants’ quarters and go to work. He was reinstated to his place as the second son of a wealthy man, with all of the privilege that entails. In the same way, believers are the Lord’s cherished children. When God looks at His loved ones, He doesn’t focus on their past failures, faults, or sins. He sees the heirs to His kingdom—men and women who love Him and desire to spend eternity in His presence.
No matter how far we may wander from the Lord’s perfect will for our lives, we are always welcome back. The Bible teaches that God’s love cannot be lost, regardless of sin or poor decisions (though we may have to live with the consequences). Our Father’s arms are always open.
And He said, “A man had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the estate that falls to me.’ So he divided his wealth between them. And not many days later, the younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country, and there he squandered his estate with loose living. Now when he had spent everything, a severe famine occurred in that country, and he began to be impoverished. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would have gladly filled his stomach with the pods that the swine were eating, and no one was giving anything to him. But when he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.”’ So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ And they began to celebrate.~Luke 15:11-24