I used to see myself in The Parable of the Prodigal Son as the bad son who became good. I was a bad son, who abused drugs and alcohol, who did a lot of bad things. Even after my spiritual awakening, I thought I needed to become a good son and make up for all the bad I had done (Lk 15:18-19).
But the Prodigal Son is really the story of a self-destructive person who comes “to his senses” (Lk 15:17a), and realizes that he had always been loved by his Father. There is nothing he can do to add to the Father’s love for him.
I didn’t have to repay God for his grace (which really is impossible). I understand that I, like the Prodigal Son, traded in my God-given identity for a false one. The Prodigal Son wasn’t bad and got good. I wasn’t bad and got good. I was already loved by God. I was already good enough in God’s eyes through the Cross of Christ.
When I saw myself not as bad getting better, but as eternally loved by the Father, forever pardoned by the Son, and empowered to recover my true identity in the baptism of the Spirit (Mt. 3:17), I was set free to become the person God created me to be.
I was not bad and became good: I was blind, but now I see the love of the Father and my true being; I was lost, but now am found by the redemption of the Son; I was dead, but now I live by the power of the Holy Spirit.
© Paul Dordal, 2014