Saturday, August 4, 2012

Ridiculous Love

"And the ProDiGaL son arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and FeLT comPassioN, and ran emBracEd him kissed him... But [the older son] was AnGrY and reFuseD to go in." (Luke 15:20, 28)

We know the story: The Parable of the Prodigal Son, as told by Jesus [see Luke 15:11-32 for full text]. The younger son asks his father for his inheritance before his father is dead, the father gives it to him in his first act of ridiculousness, the younger son then goes off and blows it all on gambling and prostitutes until he's destitute to the point of wanting to eat the same food as the pigs he's feeding (BTW for a Jewish person, that's the rock bottom of all rock bottoms).
The Prodigal Son by Frank Wesley

Meanwhile, the older son, who faithfully stood by his father the whole time, watches in bitterness as his father then welcomes his undeserving younger brother home and back into the family he so willingly and rudely left of his own accord with a feast, no less.

This parable of Jesus' is right on the money, isn't it. I mean, come on. How many of us are with the older son here?? It isn't fair that the younger, ungrateful son should be welcomed in such a manner after sinning so gravely against his father. The older son deserves better. His father owes him... um... hmm...

Then I imagine God the Father running to me, long white robes billowing behind Him, His arms open wide, smiling, laughing and hugging me so tightly I can't even breathe, and all the while not mentioning a word about those times I missed church, those times I talked badly about a friend, the swear words and dirty jokes, the arguments, the anger, the pride…

...and suddenly, that forgiving father running towards his ungrateful, undeserving son doesn't seem quite so ridiculous anymore.

This story isn't about the prodigal son at all. It's about the forgiving father. Neither son appreciated their gift, although the younger finally got the general idea when, so taken aback by his father's warm welcome, he forgot to offer to try and work off his debt as a slave (as though such a betrayal could ever be worked off) and was only able to utter that fact that he was unworthy of such love as he accepted it in dumbstruck awe (Luke 15:21).

The moral of the story? Every single one of us is a prodigal son in one way or another―extravagant either in the love that we waste or the love that we refuse to give―and we are all also baptized into Jesus' perfection. So, why not come home today? You've got nothing to lose and literally everything to gain. Go to church if you haven't been in a while or in a lifetime. Try reaching out to someone who doesn't deserve it. Sure, some will still pout and disapprove like this poor older son did, but Jesus promises that at least One Person will run to you, arms open with nothing but sheer joy at the sight of you. That's what He died for. Wouldn't you rather be at the party than out in the barn by yourself anyway?

Suggested verse to repeat if it's a difficult day comes from Psalm 130:4
Pain Rehab buddies, remember to breathe!
“But with You -------> 5 count inhale
there is forgiveness.” -------> 5 count exhale
Click here for more on FORGIVENESS.

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