Hi, Rob here. Appearances can be deceiving. We all know this don’t we? The beautiful, seemingly successful celebrity commits suicide. The happy, friendly, outgoing person is battling mental illness and an eating disorder. The holier-than-thou bible expert is secretly addicted to pornography. The quiet, modest nice guy actually has an anger problem and his family live in fear of his mood swings. We all have complex stories. None of us are the finished article. We battle selfishness in all its forms all the time. We still hide from others, or lash out, desperately trying to protect ourselves from further wounding. To borrow from Star Wars, we all seem to have a dark side that feels so real that we can come to believe it’s the truest thing about us. But it’s not. You are not your dark side. You belong to Jesus and here’s what is written about him: “In him was life, and that life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it (John 1:4-5).”
John 1 goes on to say in verse 9, “The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.” Jesus doesn’t keep his light to himself; he gives it away to you and to me. The truest thing about us is not the darkness; it is the light, the Christ-light that is in each of us who have given their lives to Jesus.
Holding on to this truth is, in many ways, the biggest challenge of the Christian life. We’re so used to being rejected or shamed for the wrong things we do or dumb things we say, that to be unconditionally loved, accepted, welcomed into the arms of God is utterly disruptive. In the story of the lost son in Luke 15, this son makes his way home bedraggled, broke and ashamed. He had wished death upon his father, shamed him and the family and was now simply hoping beyond hope that his father could find just enough grace to give him a job. Imagine his surprise when he suddenly finds himself embraced by warm, loving arms, clothed with a robe, a ring put upon his finger, a party thrown in his honour and his sonship restored. He would know that he didn’t deserve any of it. His actions had been shameful and now he was given honour. They had been disgraceful but grace was what he was receiving. This is the Christian life and to live it, is to receive the love, honour and grace that the Father gives us in Jesus.
The father declared that the lost son was not the young man who ran away to live a selfish life, but the beloved son who was now home. We are home. Our older brother Jesus has come for us (contrast with the older brother in the story) and brought us home to the Father with love in his heart and scars on his body. In God’s eyes we have always been family. In his eyes we are not our darkness, we are the light of Christ. Receive the embrace, the robe, the ring and the rejoicing. Welcome home.