Tuesday, November 5, 2013
I've always thought the Prodigal Son Parable that Jesus told was a beautiful picture of redemption, and I still do think it is, but there is more to it, that until recently, I never really thought about.
And that's the extended application of how we can further learn from it.
To truly understand a lesson from this that I've heard few people speak about, you must put yourself in the shoes of a young teen child. I don't know how you were at a young teen age, but chances are, one thing you were concerned of was "fairness." God forbid if your brother or sister got something that you did not get, let alone "all the other kids."
(This makes me remember something mom used to say to me..."If your friends jumped off a bridge, would you follow?" and of course, my cocky attitude would say, "Yes, if I could get what I wanted.")
Anyway, you are a young teenager now, right? Try to remember the attitude you USED to have at that age. And if you remember yourself being a perfect child, then you are either a miracle child or you are lying to yourself. :)
Now, imagine that your brother went to your dad and said, "Yo, dad, like, I'm sick of living in your crib. I want you to give me the money that I would get from my inheritance when you kick it so I can go out and find true happiness and live it up in Vegas."
Now imagine your dad actually agreed to this. (This proves that this is just a story that Jesus told, because I don't know a dad around that would actually agree to this, but that wasn't the point of Jesus' story).
Ok, now think about how you would feel that your brother not only got a large portion of money from your dad, but didn't have to do anything for it, and actually LEFT home because he was "bored" and wanted to find true "happiness."
Granted, this large portion of money he got would come your way when your dad does "bite the big one", but the point is, you are a young teen and don't think about the future. You think about the now. You are here stuck working in the garden, mowing the grass, sealing the driveway, and probably realizing that you are going to get stuck doing all of your brother's chores as well.
Oooh...this makes you angry, right? How fair is that?
Really dad? Really?
After some time passes, your jerk brother still hasn't come home, and you are still doing not only your share of the work, but his as well.
Then one day, you hear Midiboy music coming from the house and a bunch of people whooping it up and throwing some kind of party. You wonder what is going on, so you ask someone what is going on.
They say, "Oh! Good news! Your long lost brother came home and they are having a party in his honor. Your dad got burgers from "The Fat Cow" and you should come join us!"
Instead, because of your teen angst, you get really upset and start back on your chores, but with a terrible attitude. You are throwing things down, hitting the fence with the shovel. Cursing under your breath. Regretting the fact that your brother came home and gets a party.
You then find out that he came back saying "Dad, I'm not worthy to be called your son. I've sinned against you and God above. Please just put me to work as a servant, I won't ask for anything from you ever again."
Your dad comes out to you and says, "Hey there, why won't you come in and celebrate your brother's return with us?"
You reply in a half cocked tone, "Look, I've been doing my work, and his share of work too, and never once disobeyed you. I've never questioned you. I always got my work done on time, and, if I may add, have always gone above and beyond your expectations, yet you never threw a party for me. You didn't even take me to McDonalds, and brother gets a nice juicy meal from 'The Fat Cow' even after he took your money and squandered it on gambling, and probably all sorts of terrible things. It just isn't fair."
Then your dad looks at you with love in his eyes, and a smile on his face and says, "My dear child, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours, but we to celebrate and throw this part because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again. He was lost, but now is found."
How would you feel about that?
Now, let's look at this from several different angles:
If you are the younger brother and finally "find your senses" as the Bible so eloquently puts it in one translation, how would it make you feel when God accepts you back without so much a lecture? He embraces you with open arms and says "Welcome home, son!"
What if you were the father and your son came home? Would it be easy for you to embrace him and welcome him home? Would you be able to resist any snide remarks? Would you be able to resist being an "I Told You So?"
What if you were the older brother? Would you think it was completely unfair that God accepted someone who admitted that they were a terrible sinner and asked for forgiveness? Would you be able to trust that person? Would you secretly wonder if it was all an act? Would you spread rumors about him behind his back?
The point of this whole thing is this...let's leave it to God to deal with who and who is not going to be accepted into His love. It's not for us to decide. We can't assume we know God's mind on everything.
We do know from this story that the son came HOME and his father accepted Him. We don't know AND CANNOT assume what would have happened had he not come home.
There is no reason we need to argue God's mind on such matters.
It so easy to say "Oh, well they go to 'that' church or believe 'that way' they can't be a Christian."
Let's let God decide that. We need to love them anyway. No matter what. Jesus does.