Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Prodigal—Not the Parent

Still reflecting on the Parable of the Prodigal Son from Luke 15. How often present day parents of prodigals read this passage and project their feelings and emotions onto the father. The tendency to relate to the father is overwhelming because of the pain of a wandering child. As a pastor I always want to comfort these parents and, where possible, offer as much hope as I can.

However, we must be careful not to miss the point of the parable. This is not a parable about hurting moms and dads. No this trilogy of parables, including the lost sheep and lost coin, is a mural of salvation. If we are to project ourselves into this parable it can never be as the loving, persevering parent who longs for the child to come home. Rather, we are all the prodigal, everyone of us. Until we see ourselves in that light we will never begin to grasp just how ginormous grace is.

We are the lost sheep, the lost coin, the lost son. As we come to the end of ourselves, repent and return to our loving Father we experience His grace, His mercy, His pardon, His eternal life, His certain salvation.

“Oh, to grace how great a debtor,
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.”

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Selfishness Kills Joy

Today in my Bible reading I was in the 15th chapter of Luke, the story of the Prodigal Son. On this occasion I noticed something I had never seen before.

Luke 15:12 “The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the estate that falls to me.’ So he divided his wealth between them.”

“So he divided his wealth between them.” That means the older brother got his inheritance at the same time as the younger. Somehow, I’ve missed that. I’ve always had a bit of understanding of the older brother’s plight, since he was at home diligently helping, waiting for his share.

So I speculate:

If the dad truly divided his estate between them; and, if the older had his share already; and, if the younger wasted away all of his share; and, if the dad gave the younger, upon his return, a robe and a ring and sandals and a fatted calf…then where did all those things come from? Did they come from the older brothers share?

Could it be that his selfishness over HIS stuff robbed him of the joy of his brother’s return and his father’s grace?

Recently, a close friend of mine was given an opportunity that I had wanted. I was really bummed. I let my selfishness over what I thought was going to be mine rob me of joy for my friend and the joy that should have been mine over the whole occasion in question. Once again, I’m reminded of how much of the “older brother” I have in me.

Phil. 2:3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;
Phil. 2:4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.