Brian Pierce explores this in his book "Jesus and the Prodigal Son: the God of Radical Mercy". He reminds us that "Words like grace, mercy, and unconditional love are not easily understood in a world where revenge is revered almost as a “human right.”"
We need to take seriously that God engages with those whom we would prefer to reject and whom we we would readily dismiss as lost. The great thing, of course, is that we don't have to reach a particular standard. God's loving call is there for us even though we are - and we need to remember this - prodigals. As Pierce says: "The wonderful and utterly unexpected surprise, of course, is that he welcomes us with all of our bumps and bruises. The narrow door, open to all, is nothing less than the beginning of a great and never-ending adventure of love. Jesus upsets the sacred status quo, of course, by choosing table friendship as a way of welcoming and rehabilitating sinners. In his new Way there is no “entrance exam” for joining the community, for taking a seat at the table; one need only be willing to take a step in the direction of grace, that is, enter though the narrow, open door."
How do we play that out in our church engagement with our community? How do we ensure that our welcome is what it should be?