This past weekend, we looked at the amazing Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32). In this story, we get introduced to not one, but two lost sons, whose relationship with their father, which symbolizes God, disintegrates because of two wrong responses to the gift and grace of the Father.
We examined this parable by looking at it through the lens of how you respond to receiving from the Father. If our connection with God begins by receiving from Him, and accepting that we are beloved dust, what is the next right response?
And, what we saw in this parable is that both sons deny one aspect of the truth that we are both loved and dust.
A) DENYING THAT WE ARE LOVED
The younger son doubts and denies the love of the father. And, this response leads him to rebel and live in a distant land, far from the father. The voice of the father is hard to find in this distant land, but what precipitates this move is believing the lie that he isn’t loved by the father. We see this in his response to the father – that even after being accepted and welcomed back, he still sees himself as a slave, rather than a son.
In this, we learned that denying the love of the Father is one response that will lead you to not connecting and growing with God.
B) DENYING THAT WE ARE DUST
The older son doesn’t deny the love of the father, per se, but rather he denies that he is dust. What we see is that he works to earn the love of the father – that his issue is in keeping score of who deserved what. And, because of his good behaviour, he believed he deserved everything. In essence, he forgot that he was broken, imperfect, and limited, just like his younger brother. He forgot that he was dust. And, because of this, he ended up outside of the party, and out of connection with the father. While he followed all the rules, he felt like a slave to the father, not like a son.
This revealed another response that can distance us from God – the mindset that we believe we are so good that we deserve more than we have, and that others deserve less.
We landed on this main point: Trust that you are loved, and be honest about your flaws. We need to avoid rejecting the love of the Father, or trying to earn the love of the Father. And, if those are the responses we should avoid, as they distance us from God, what responses should we pursue in order to deepen our relationship with God?
Well, from the same story, we came up with two responses:
The first comes from the younger son: Repent. Repentance is to change direction, and move in a new way. This is how you deepen your relationship with the Father. If you have been running, denying that you are loved, and living in a distant country with wasteful living, turn around and move back toward God.
Repentance leads you deeper into connection and communion with God.
The second response comes from the older brother, in that he can’t join the party because he is too busy keeping score of who should be in and out of God’s kingdom. He forgets that no one deserves it, and that we have all fallen short of the glory of God. In essence, his good deeds blind him to his dustiness. The response the father is looking for is for him to welcome others, and join in on the celebration – to be joyful that his brother is connecting and journeying closer to the father.
Welcoming the people the Father welcomes draws us closer to God.
So, we ended with two challenges:
1. Repent, and return to the Father.
2. Admit your flaws, and welcome the people that God is welcoming.