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[25] “Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. [26] And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. [27] And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ [28] But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, [29] but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. [30] But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ [31] And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. [32] It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’”
(Luke 15:25-32)

The journey of Jesus’ story about the prodigal son culminates in a climactic party. The father gathers his entire village to celebrate the fact that his son is home – he was dead, and now he is alive. The picture Jesus paints is one of dancing, singing, and enjoying of the good things in life. It’s tactile and sensational. However, at its core, it is a snapshot of relationship. The son is reunited to his father in deep and abiding love. They are experiencing the fruit of a restored and renewed relationship. It’s a love that has not and will not let him go. It’s a love that allows for dancing. It’s a love that causes celebration. It’s a love that births new life.

This parable reminds us of something we all know – love is the context for freedom. In human relationships, when we know we are truly loved, we are free to be ourselves. We can make mistakes without fear of being cast aside – we can be ‘naked and unashamed.’ We know when love transcends performance, it creates freedom. The shackles of perfection and production are only broken under the weight of unconditional love. When the father runs towards his younger son – the same son who has blown 1/3 of his wealth – and wraps his arms around him, he creates a liberty in his soul that cannot be obtained in any other way. If you’ve ever heard someone utter the words, “I love you even though…” or “I’ll love you even if…” you know the sense of freedom the younger son felt.

The love of God is the cornerstone of the meta-narrative of scripture. The story begins with God in perfect relationship with humanity in a garden, and it ends with God in perfect relationship with humanity in the new creation. It’s this love humanity was designed to flourish within. It’s this relationship we all intuitively long for. As Saint Augustine so poignantly stated, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.” We are most fully human when we are most abundantly loved. Being enveloped in the arms of God emancipates the human soul… it drives out fear and allows us to walk with God and others unhindered. (1 John 4:19)

Spend a few moments today and think about the way this reality has functioned in your earthly relationships. When have you experienced (given or received) unconditional love and what did it do to your soul? [/vc_column_text][us_separator height=”25px” size=”custom”][vc_column_text]

By Ryan Paulson  

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