Quotable Fridays: Henri Nouwen on the difference between the Son and a Slave

“One of the greatest challenges of the spiritual life is to receive God’s forgiveness. There is something in us humans that keeps us clinging to our sins and prevent us from letting God erase our past and offer us a completely new beginning. Sometimes it even seems as though I want to prove to God that my darkness is too great to sons hip. I keep insisting that I will settle for being a hired servant. But do I truly want to be restored to the full responsibility of the son? Do I truly want to be so totally forgiven that a completely new way of living becomes possible? Do I trust myself and such a radical reclamation? Do I want to break away from my deep-rooted rebellion against God and surrender myself so absolutely to God’s love that a new person can emerge? Receiving forgiveness requires a total willingness to let God be God and do all the healing, restoring, and renewing. As long as I want to do even a part of that myself, I end up with partial locutions, such as becoming a hired servant. As a hired servant, I can still keep my distance, still revolt, rejet, strike, run away, or complain about my pay.”

Henri Nouwen, The Return of the Prodigal Son, 53

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