Monday, March 4, 2013

Is human forgiveness welcoming other prodigals back? 15:1-3, 11-32

Jesus told 3 stories of God the Father restoring the lost who'd forsaken His love in Luke 15. First is a story of a lost sheep, Luke 15:4-7. Next comes the story of a woman with a lost coin in Luke 15:8-10. Each time a lost one is restored Luke notes Jesus words-- there's joy χαρὰ in heaven. Then comes the most impactful story of God the Father's mercy I've read this past year Luke 15:11-32.
This stories often called the story of the prodigal son. Prodigal's are wasteful and act with disreguard for the great gifts they've been given.
It's no secret I am a prodigal as is every other Christian. There's no better word explaining our drift from God into sin. When you live close to God you have joy and all you need. Prodigals step away looking for something better that they will never find. Prodigals squander real treasure: the joy of being God the Father's presence.
There's One thing this story makes abundantly clear--God isn't the one who wanders--that's not the case at all. God's the one who stays firm as we prodigals search out better than what God has offered us (Luke 15:12).
No human can count all that attracts prodigals away from the joy of the Father. Money, sex, material goods, food, drugs, booze, pornography, power, reputation, appearance, prestigue--prodigals run to all these and more. Some use these as armor to protect a hurt core deep inside yearning for love. The list is endless but the result is always the same. Prodigals seek satisfaction while wandering away from the joy God the Father wants for them. Prodigals give up joy shared with God the Father, in exchange for much less Luke 15:13-16.
And this is where the Good News breaks into the story. Jesus told of a yound man who came to his senses (Luke 15:17) Whenever we are done running--for some prodigals it takes a few weeks--for others it takes years--we can turn back (Luke 15:17-19). Returning to the Father is the moment we find God's true heart and embrace; its the moment when we are restored to joy (Luke 15:20-24). Even when we're unfaithful the Father remains faithful wanting to always restore the broken relationship and welcomes us back into the joy of his kingdom.
Is human forgiveness recieving other prodigals back? While the Father was eagerly welcoming back his prodigal son into the joy of relationship his other boy came in to complain Luke 15:25-27. He accused his father of be prodigal too. He wasted resources on a wayward son and never was so extravagent with him Luke 15:28-30. I've been this unwelcoming brother too; perhaps this is the place where the honesty of thie story cuts closest to home. Jesus invites us here to know God's true character and heart. His love is for all--afterall Jesus came to call the sinners Luke 5:32.
We never hear what the elder brother did next. Maybe this is where the church is called to live out the ministry of reconcilliation 2 Corinthians 5:16-21. Maybe this is my great challenge as a prodigal who hasn't yet forgiven another prodigal
May God give us new spirits that we might forgive as he does whenever another prodigcal comes home. AMEN.


John Mundinger said...

Pr. Heille - One of the more interesting sermons that I have heard on Luke 15 was a word play on "prodigal" - lavishness. The pastor suggested that the parable should have been called "The prodigal Father" - focusing not on the son who squandered his inheritance but on the lavishness of the Father's love for his son.

John, an unlikely pastor said...

I think you are absolutely right this story really is all about God and not us in the end.
When we take the attitude of the older brother we prove again just how amazing the gospel really is and just how amazing God's grace is for all sinners who repent and believe.

John, an unlikely pastor said...

Hey John
thanks for the flies. I have hopes to be in the Whitewater river a couple times this spring and summer
thanks for the generosity,