What God thinks about, when God thinks about you?
When you think about, What God thinks about, when God thinks about you, what do you think about? This is a big idea, it’s a tongue twister, but it is a big idea, because it, will become clear to us when we move through our time together, what you think about what God thinks when he thinks about you, really has a huge impact on what you think about when you think about God. It should not be this way, but it is.
For the most of us when we think about what God thinks about when God thinks about me we sort of bounce it off some things that we really should not be bouncing those thoughts off of and it impacts the way that we view God. Let me, tell you some things that influence the way that we think God thinks when he thinks about us. The biggest thing to influencers us, when we think about what God thinks about when he thinks about us is what we think about us. I generally think that God thinks about me basically what I think about me.
So if I'm having a great day and I don't know what a Good day for you is but whatever you think a great day is for you morally or ethically if you're christian you actually got up a little the earlier we read your Bible you were a nice to to your husband, your wife, you didn't yell at your kids, you were just firm with your kids. You were honest at work, you let somebody have a seat on the bus or whatever. You've had good day. And isn't true that when you had a good day you I think God is happy with you. Right?
Then when you had a bad day, you know he's not happy with you. You know, that sort of bad habit came back into your lifestyle and your feeling guiltily or some shame. Then you we're harsh with you're wife or your husband, or are you weren't exactly honest at work, you didn't completely disclose everything to the tax man. There is little bit of a cloud of guilt. When you're not happy with you, you just assume that God is not happy with you. This is really strange we live and think as if God takes his cues from us. Now you don't really believe that, but that's kind of how we operate. We think that God's thinking reflects or mirrors our thinking about us. But here's a big idea, what if God doesn't take his cues about you from you? What if you think differently?
Then the other thing that similar that influences the way we think about God, when God thinks about us, is just culture in general. Because I learned a long time ago as you did that if you don't perform well, things don't go so well, do they? You've got to perform. You got a performance school, then you had to perform at work, you to perform in the marketplace, some of you feel like you have to perform in your relationship, you had to perform for your parents, you had to perform for your father, you were compared to your younger sister or your smarter older brother, some of you feel like you have to perform even in your marriages in order to get the love at that you want. For some of you may have never ever experience love that was not performance based maybe just the way you were raised it.
So it's natural for us when we think about what God thinks when he thinks about us, to think: “Well, it must have measure what he thinks about me with my performance.” Again when you think about it, you may not really think go God thinking in those terms but in our real response we oftentimes so.
What these have in common “What I think about me, what people or the culture thinks about me,” they all revolve around this little word “do.” We tend to think and we tend to operate emotionally as if God looks at me through the lens and the filter of what I do. But what if that's wrong? What if God operates on a completely different system, a completely different economy of relationships, a completely different scale. So today I want to tell you what God thinks about when God thinks about you.
I want to just a few minutes today doing everything in my communication power to explain what God thinks about, when he thinks about you. The scripture is very very clear. Here's what we got when when God thinks about you. HE LOVES YOU. And he couldn't love you anymore and nothing you do or have done or plan to do, could make him love you less. God loves you no matter what you've done but God doesn't love you because of what you have done.
Now the reason I can say with confidence, that God loves you, is It's because of Jesus...
When you open the gospel for accounts of Jesus life, it is absolutely incredible to find that whatever Jesus went, the people who were nothing like Jesus, liked Jesus. Even stranger yet the people that like him, seemed to be liked by Jesus. Even odder, The only people that Jesus did not like where those who taught people that God only liked good people. This is what that means for us, if you were to approach Jesus today in the supermarket, he would like you. Despite your background, your habits, your weirdness, or sins. What we are talking about is his love for you. Maybe his love is more unconditional than what we think.
For the most part, no matter what your religion, everyone struggles with “What Does God think about me?” All of us struggle with this, so when Jesus was on earth, the people he encountered struggled with it too. So, the central part of Jesus message was how God is love, what John writes later.
If you read the New Testament he was in-between two kinds of groups, the law-keepers and the law-breakers. The behaviors and the mis-behaviors. The people who felt close to God because they did everything right and those who felt that they would never know where they stood with God because they did most thinks wrong. Both groups though that God’s view on them was shaped based on their behavior. Jesus did his best to say, “You have it wrong. The way God looks at you, is not how you view you, people view you, or even how culture views you. This issue comes to a boiling point in one conversation, that Jesus teaches a message. It’s a message we have all heard, and one of Jesus’ most known messages, but for many of us, the message hasn’t gotten from our heads to our hearts.
Many know it as the prodigal son, but that doesn’t fit well. How many sons are in this story? Two. A younger son and an older son.
Let me set up the text for us. This story is brilliant. Jesus, as we will soon read, has two groups in his audience, they don’t like each other, they are opposite in every single way, and Jesus teaches in a way that brings both in together to a point on which they all agree on.
Here are the opening lines of our text:
“Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, 'This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.'”
So Jesus has two groups in this audience, and he is preparing to tell them why he loves everyone. He does so by telling them three parables. We are going to read one. Now, a parable is more or less a made up story to make a real point. So Jesus is making up a story to express a truth. So Jesus brilliantly tells his crowd this:
“There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them."
This is the impact of the story. It's like you going to your dad and telling him: "Dad, I know that when you die I will get the house, the boat, and the assets that comes from me liquidating the farm land. I have been waiting for you to die, and although you are not getting younger, you still got time. Time I am unwilling to spend waiting for your death. So, can we agree to pretend that your dead so you can give me my inheritance now?" Now, even the worst tax collector is going “That is bold. That’s really bold! I wouldn’t even do that! I mean, I am a greedy tax collector, and I wouldn't have done that.” So Jesus gives an extreme. So now both groups are on the same page. This is emotional. It just doesn’t get much worst in a father and son relationship.
“Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.”
So, he leaves after insulting his father, he buys a condo, 4 cars, he has wild parties every night. Then he goes bankrupt, there is a famine, he is unemployed, so he goes to find work, ends up feeding pigs. Now everyone in the audience is like “Ahh, pigs.” And the religious teachers are thinking, “That is what he deserves. Serves him right.” Everyone is thinking about how Jesus started with a parable on the lost being found, but this is an emotional story, and they would be thinking, “This son needs to stay lost. Just look at what he did to his father!”
This Jesus says, that one day the boy began coming to his senses. This is where we come back in. Drop down to verse 17.
“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him:"
So now he is writing a speech, because no one would just go home and expect everything to be normal as if you left for the store and returned again. So he prepares a speech because he expects his father to respond how he would respond to himself. Expects his dad to be mad, saying “What do you want? Do you want more. Where is the money. Get off my farm.” So the son prepares a strong speech, if not he knew he wouldn’t even get on the property. So here is the speech. And it is a speech most like one we would give to God when we start our way back to him, if you feel you have been away from him. This is the message he prepares. Listen to this:
“Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ So he got up and went to his father.”
He knows he cant be a son anymore, so he just wants relief in servanthood. If you are not paying attention, this is important, what we are about to read next.
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
If I was in the crowd I would have interrupted Jesus. “How could the father feel compassion when he hadn’t heard of the boy’s story yet. Doesn’t he have to hear the boy’s story, before feeling compassion?” The father ran to the son with compassion before the son even got to him.
May I ask a question about you. Has it ever crossed your mind, that when God looks at you, he would feel compassion? Has it ever occurred to you that in your deepest, darkest day, that day when that bad habit had a hold on you, or a fight with your spouse, or overreacted towards your son, or did something dishonest. On your very worst day, what would happen if you ask, “I wonder what God thinks about me now?” Would if ever cross your mind That God looked at you and felt compassion? No. Because we don’t understand our heavenly father.
Maybe we have been wrong about the love of God. This is what was at the center of what Jesus wanted to teach us. That here is a father who’s son insulted him so badly, that he couldn’t have done anything more to make the story any worst, and when he saw the son he felt compassion.
Now with every parable there is something representing God and something representing us. So Jesus’ audience is going “I know that the father is, God. Surely I could be the prodigal, but now way would God love me like that.” The teachers of the law, they don’t know who they are yet, but they know they can not be the prodigal, because in their eyes, they are good. And in no way would the father, have compassion on a heathen. Both groups are wrong in their understanding about God’s love.
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’"
While the father is hugging him, the son is like “wait, my speech. You have to first let me say it, so you can decide if I need to go to rehab or not, and then how long I plan to be here, and how long will it take to repay you.” The father is just there giving a bear hug.
“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate.' 'For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.'”
He is treated as a son, instantly. Which the father never withdrew him from being a son. The son’s speech is irrelevant at this point. Both groups of Jesus’ audience are like “You got to be kidding me. You are telling us how this is what God is like?”
We have to understand the weight of this. It’s like your neighbors having a son named jimmy. Jimmy has been in and out of rehab, he does drugs, then he breaks into his parents house, steals everything, and then disappears for two years. Then all of a sudden you receive a call from the parents, “You know Jimmy, right? Well he just showed up on the drive way, and we are going to have a party today!” Me and you would be, “It’s a little early for a party. Is he really back or just out to steal from his parents again. He is going to rehab. Has he changed. It is a heartfelt change?” We have all these questions, but the father is over there like “I don’t care, about anything right now.”
So, back to the story. The party is now getting started here. The youngest son feels awkward, he is still trying to say, “I don’t deserve a party.”
“Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.'"
This is what Jesus says:
“The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him.
The older son is like I am not going because there is no reason for a party. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’
"Slaving for you." What does this mean? It means he is about to give a different version of the same speech the other brother gave. The other brother came saying “I haven’t, I haven’t, I haven’t” The older brother, “I have, I have I have.”
I have always been obedient! I haven’t been rewarded by the least. Notice, he didn’t say his brother, but “This son of yours.” Dad, I hate to break it to you, but your son has took your honestly made money and used it for prostitutes. That’s what you are celebrating?
Now, the religious leaders now who they are in the story. They are agreeing with the older brother, saying “I would feel the same way.” In fact, “We feel the same way about tax collectors.” We don’t know why you love them, when they are unlovable.
So, the father says, verse 31...
“‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours." Luke 15:31
What is that word. WITH. What we would think he would say is “You have always obeyed me,” but that is not the issue. My friends, it has never been the issue, in regards to how God loves you.
"But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ ”
You have always been with me. Now your brother is with me. Wait, your telling me “with” is a bigger deal than “do”? Is being close to you a bigger deal than be being obedient to you always?
The law breakers and the mis-behaviors are thinking, “Really, that is how God thinks about me?” And the law keepers are thinking, “It’s with, not do?”
Let me ask you, which brother did the father love more? Yeah. Process that one. The father loved them both equally! Let that set in.
If we think, and maintain to think, that what we do is a filter that God views us through, I would say, the older you are the more hopeless you are. But, Jesus said they are all hopeless. So Jesus decided to remove sin completely out of the equation. He removed “do” out of the equation. “Do” is completely off the table. This is how I know this. Paul lived a life in the beginning that did more harm than you might ever do, killing Christians for a living, he went from this to looking at Jesus’ ministry and writing:
"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this"
Note: HIS LOVE. NOT YOUR LOVE. God’s love.
"While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
While we were stilling messing around, while we were still living for ourselves, God loved you. Before you had the opportunity to do or not do, God loved you. So, he took the “do” he took the “sin” away.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”
John 3:16- 17
If you get this from your head to your heart, it will impact every part of your life.
You will forgive faster. You will forgive yourself. When you judge another, you will stop yourself by saying "How dare I mistreat someone who is a recipient of God’s love." You will think differently about the poor, the sick, the elderly, the people who are of a different skin color than you.