Friday, November 14, 2008

The Prodigal Son - Who Are You?

You are apt to see yourself as the prodigal who has sinned against the grace of God. You have taken the good gifts of God and wasted them on riotous living. You have spent your fortune on the cheap pleasures of self-serving greed and lust. You demanded satisfaction and you used God's gifts to you to achieve it immorally and unethically. And you know it. In the past, this condition has hit you squarely between the eyes. You have reaped the consequences of what you have sown. You have seen the pain and damage you have caused to those around you. You were in the pig-pen and came crawling for grace.

But now have you returned to the old ways. The sins are different, but your state is the same. The problem is that are not yet in the pig-pen, eating the slop. You are, as of yet, unwilling to see just how ugly things are. You are unwilling to come to the Father in humility and repentance. You are not yet desperate. You still think you know more than you do. You think that you are the exception to God's way of living, that you can do it and get away with it, that the end won't be as bad as God promised it would be.

You like to think of your sin as primarily in the past. Yet you are presently miserable, though you have begun to mask it by certain choices. As of now, you are unwilling to obey and come home to a loving and gracious Father because you know what it will cost you, and you would rather live in disobedience than pay that price.

Actually, you are more like the older brother. You are self-righteous, even though you know you have done wrong. You think what they did is so much worse. You can't imagine that anyone would forgive and restore them. You have an elevated sense of your own knowledge. You are upset that someone would think they are sorry. You are angry that someone would "kill the fatted calf" and choose to love and restore.

You are justified in your own mind. You are convinced that prodigals must prove themselves before they are worthy of your acceptance. But, given your self-righteousness and bitterness, there is nothing that they can do to prove themselves to you. You think that if you do not see exactly what you want to see that you are not required to respond biblically.

When someone else celebrates repentance and confession, even in small steps, your anger and bitterness increases. Rather than celebrate, you withdraw even more.

You should be like the father, anxiously desiring to be gracious. You should be watching anxiously for return and restoration. You should have long ago granted it, even as imperfect as the return may have been. Interestingly, the prodigal never had the chance to explain or make his request. The simple act of returning was enough to unleash the grace and love of the father.

You should be ready to kill the fatted-calf in celebration. It is not your job to punish or to withhold favor. It is time to party. Make it a big one filled with grace and love just as you received from your heavenly Father.

Who are you going to be?

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