There is a lot of skepticism about God today. I suppose this has almost always been true. Atheism, agnosticism and pessimism ("Where is God when bad things happen?") all express denial, doubt and disappointment about even the idea of God.
But wait! In Luke 15, following the parables of the lost sheep and lost coin, Jesus' story of the prodigal son reveals several things about God's nature that can reassure us.
First, God is personal. In the story, Jesus portrays him as a loving father. Jesus, of course, knew him intimately as his father, so much so he could pray, "...Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will" (Mark 14:36). Paul encouraged the Roman Christians by telling them, "...you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!'" (Romans 8:15).
Second, we learn from this parable that God respects human freedom. The prodigal's father allowed him to leave home with his inheritance, even though as the youngest son, common practice gave the eldest son the right of first inheritance. God wants us to make the choice to serve him. (Joshua said to his countrymen just before his death, "...if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, ...as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD" (Joshua 24:15).
Third, God loves us, even in our sin. Everyone familiar with the Bible know the truth of John 3:16. Then, the apostle Paul, through inspiration, gives emphasis to God's love for the world before he sent his son: "...while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). Remember also that Jesus loved Peter - even though he denied him.
Now, reader, realize this doesn't give us the right to sin! The three parables of Luke 15 graphically demonstrate the "lost" nature of separation from God. If we want to be in good relations with him, we must be willing to live as he wants.
The wonderful truth for sinful men is that God will forgive if we will repent. This isn't everything scriptures tells us about the way to please God and be saved from sin, but it is vital and cannot be ignored or neglected. In a statement of God's love and mercy, as well as his demand for repentance, Jesus describes his mission on earth: "I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance" (Luke 5:32). God's conditions of forgiveness differ with Christians and non-Christians, but both include repentance.
God wants to bless us. His blessings are beyond our ability to understand. His blessings are available both now and in the life to come. In the language of Jesus' parable, God wants to kill the fattened calf or us. He is willing to welcome us home with open arms.