When you picture God, what image comes to mind? A distant inventor? A cosmic sheriff waiting for you to do something wrong? A paramedic that you call on when you are in trouble? A loving father?
Read Luke 15:11-31
How would you feel if you were the father and your son wanted his inheritance before you were even dead?
Describe what you think the son did when he was in a distant country.
Have you ever felt like you were in a distant country from God? What kinds of things were you doing?
Why did the son come to his senses?
From what you know about the father, what do you think he was doing while the son was away?
Does the reaction of the father surprise you when you think about what the son has done to him?
Describe all of the actions of the father when his son comes home.
How would you feel if you were the son and you got this kind of reception?
How do you think that heaven reacts when a person decides to be a follower of Jesus and his sins are forgiven?
Do you think that the older brother responded appropriately? How would you respond if you were in his shoes?
Even though he shared the same house as the father, did the older son share the father’s love for the younger son and outlook on life? Do you think that the older son ever goes in and rejoices with everyone else?
Note that the people that Jesus is trying to represent by the older son are the pharisees and religious leaders of 15:2. There may be people in your group who are religious, but do not have a relationship with God. Focus on the older son a little more if this is the case.
If you were to describe your spiritual journey in relation to the younger son, where would you be? Still at home? In a distant country? Coming to your senses? On the way home? Partying with Dad?
What would it take for you to ‘come home’ to the heavenly Father represented by the earthly father in this passage?