And Jesus said, A certain man had two sons: And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.
And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.
And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.
Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing. And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant. And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound. And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him. And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends: But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf. And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.
I love this parable. Last night I was thinking about it again and new meanings and depths started to emerge. First, a little bit of background. I believe that this parable speaks of eternal security. The prodigal son was always a son, even though he squandered his inheritance/reward and even though he didn't seek to be reinstated as a son. The father was so, so happy to see him. Think about it. Our Father, God in heaven, does not sit with His arms folded, an angry look on His face waiting for us to slip up so that He can punish us. There are natural consequences for sin, but our Daddy in heaven is patiently waiting for us to return to Him so that we can be reinstated into fellowship with Him in this life. The prodigal would always be a son whether or not he was reunited with his father in this life, always.
Last night I got to thinking about how this parable applies to the Body of Christ in this life. I got to thinking about modern day prodigals, people who are born-again into God's adoptive family but who slip away from fellowship with their brothers and sisters and even from God. People who struggle with anger, addiction, reclusiveness, brokenness, abuse... people who just don't seem to fit into churches. God loves them. If they are born-again, He will never leave or forsake them and nothing (not even themselves) will snatch them from His hand or separate them from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus. They have been sealed with the Holy Spirit and Christ lives in them, the hope of glory. Same as you or me.
What about the faithful son, the one who is also born-again into God's adoptive family but who is obedient to His Father, does His will in this life, is faithful with everything his Father has given him. God also loves them. He will never leave or forsake them and nothing (not even themselves) will snatch them from His hand or separate them from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus. They have been sealed with the Holy Spirit and Christ lives in them, the hope of glory. Same as you or me!
So what gives the faithful son the right to criticise his Father's love for the prodigal son? What gives me the right to stand in judgement over a brother or sister whom God loves, has justified, sanctified and glorified, whom He has died for? So called "good" Christians need grace just as much as "hopeless" or "bad" ones. Good Christians were just as damned before they were born of the Spirit of God. We all have besetting sins and faults, some of them are imperceptible to other people, others wreak havoc and wreck lives. And how do we in the church deal with this kind of besetting sin in others? We call it a demon and try to cast it out. We have prayer meetings and pray against it, we fast and pray.
When did Jesus ever command us to cast demons out of eachother? He commanded us to love one another. That's much harder than calling in the local deliverance minister who probably doesn't know the person and will probably never see them again. It's much hard to accept a brother/sister as they are and just love them. Love them? How? 1 Cor. 13
- can be patient with them
- can be kind to them
- don't have to envy anything about them
- don't have to brag to anyone that I'm loving them
- don't have to be arrogant towards them (I'm saved by grace too, remember?)
- don't have to act unbecomingly towards them
- can't have ulterior motives in relation to them
- don't have to be easily provoked by anything they say/do
- don't have to hold anything against them (God doesn't)
- don't have to rejoice when they mess up and say "I told you so"
- can rejoice when the truth of God's Word changes the way they live/feel about themselves
- can put up with them
- can believe in them
- can hope that God will heal them
- can endure all things with them
- don't have to give up on them