The story of the Prodigal Son is such a rich mine of spiritual jewels to examine. The religious leaders have questioned Jesus about why he hangs out with sinful people. In response, he tells them this and two other stories: about a lost coin, a lost sheep, and a lost son (do you detect a theme?)

The Prodigal Son story is particularly disarming because it challenges us to think closely about how we look at things. So for example, the ‘father’ in the story is meant to shape how we view God.

God’s essential nature is love, but he expresses this love through holiness and mercy. The father allows the son to break fellowship with him and leave. He doesn’t beg him to reconsider or change his rules to suit the son. (God is holy.) But then when the son comes to his senses and returns, the father is first in line to welcome him home (God is merciful.)

People get this wrong all the time today. I know lots of church-folks who are way over-the-top with the holiness side of God, who see God as a sort of trigger happy Deity who loves to say to us – in a Godfather voice – “See these 10 commandments here? If I see ya mess around with these, it’s curtains for you pal. I’ll rub you right out. Capiche?”

But then I’ll turn around and read the most ridiculous sounding things in articles about how God is love, and because he is love, he’s all-in on you being hetero-, homo-, bi-, tri-, trans-….no questions asked.

Sorry. But a holy God without mercy, or a merciful God who was not holy would not be a God of love. (Any good parent would understand this.) Reflect today on how you view God. Ask yourself if you have neglected one side of God’s love over another.

But a holy God without mercy, or a merciful God who was not holy would not be a God of love.

Bear Clifton is a pastor, writer and screenwriter. His blogs and devotionals can be enjoyed at his ministry website: and his writing website: Bear is the author of “Train Yourself To Be Godly: A 40 Day Journey Toward Sexual Wholeness”, “Ben-Hur: The Odyssey”, and “A Sparrow Could Fall”, all available through Amazon.