In Philip Yancey’s book, titled What’s so Amazing about Grace? the reader is invited into an expanded understanding of God and forgiveness. If you were raised in any kind of Christian church or community, the following insights may sound new, different, and yet fully like the God you and I are invited to love, to follow, and to know.

Let’s start with the parable of the Lost Sons or more famously known as the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15). The word prodigal means wasteful, reckless.  The piece of the parable I draw your attention to is when the prodigal son turns his physical being towards home out of hunger and desperation.  Notice this young man did not turn towards home out of guilt, nor repentance, nor even remorse about asking for his inheritance too soon; no, he was hungry.  Meanwhile, we know his father had been watching for his son.  We are told that when the father sees this lost boy walking toward home, this dignified and very rich man hikes up his robe and runs, maybe sprints, towards this beloved one.

Scholars say that running towards his disrespectful son would have been an embarrassing act for the father.  God loves us in a rather embarrassing way for a Divine Being!  The father represents God in his actions – God is racing towards you and me while we are yet a long way off and God is filled with “love and compassion” for us.  And the son, his words in the text are not many, names he has sinned and is not worthy to be called “son.”  The father’s reply is as God invites us to respond to one who seeks forgiveness, “QUICK, dress him, feed him, for this son of mine has returned.”  Yancey points out that there is no solemn lecture, “I hope you’ve learned your lesson!”[1]  There is not evaluation based on how repentance should look, sound, and be in another person.  No, that is God’s work, not ours. 

Yancey writes, God does not stand and wait for us.  Rather God goes out and seeks for you and me.[2]  Even to those who betrayed Jesus – especially the disciples, who forsook him at his time of greatest need – he responded like a lovesick father.[3]  Jesus never mentions Peter’s betrayal and never shames him for his humanness and betrayal.  You see, grace and forgiveness do not depend on what we have done for God.  Grace and forgiveness depend on what God has and is continually doing for you and for me.[4]

[1] Philip Yancey, What’s so Amazing about Grace? (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1997), 52.

[2] Ibid., 55.

[3] Ibid., 55.

[4] Ibid., 55.