Thursday, November 24, 2011

A story that blows my mind (Part 2)

In my last post, I broke down one of my favorite stories and shared thoughts I've been chewing on this semester. I'd like to continue that for one more post.

We were looking at the story of the Lost Son, aka the Prodigal Son. I've been reading a book called "Prodigal God" by Timothy Keller that a good friend of mine got at a bargain sale. I've wanted to read the book for 2 years now. It's been a really good read so far. I'd recommend it.

Last post I focused on the younger son, and now I want to focus on the older son.

In the story we discover this about him:
-He felt like a servant, and not like a son (notice he never addressed his father as father)
-He was consumed by a life of duty, and toil, with no joy
-He had never experienced real grace, and like the rest of us, believed in "eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth" system of justice.

Jesus told this story to an audience, half of which consisted of Pharisees. The older brother represented the Pharisees, and sadly I believe the older brother represents many Christians today. Not experiencing the joy of the Lord, they are slaves to serving God because they are supposed to, not out of any true desire to bring Him glory.

This semester one UNCW student and I have had many conversations on various road trips and many of them have revolved around grace. We confess that often we feel like we aren't doing enough, we aren't being Christian enough to be at peace with God. And it is peace that we are seeking.

But peace and reconciliation cannot be found by working for them. Grace is a gift and therefore must be received as a free gift. Romans 1-8 breaks this down.

And so we wrestle with receiving God's grace and resisting the human nature to save ourselves by our own means. We remind ourselves that Jesus calls us friends, and God calls us sons.

"I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you." John 15:15

Father I pray that you would be revealed to the millions of servants around the globe who faithfully serve you, but know you not as their Father. I pray that they would realize the good gifts you offer, and the grace you provide. That you accept us as we are, and not for what we do. In the name of your son Jesus I pray, Amen.

Monday, November 14, 2011

A story that blows my mind (Part 1)

This fall I've been dwelling on grace a lot, and a lot of my thinking centers around the story in Luke 15:11-32. Some call it the Lost Son, others the Prodigal Son. I myself think it should be called the Prodigal Father. Prodigal means extravagant, just in case you didn't know.

Instead of summarizing I'd encourage you to read the story in your Bible, or you can read it here.

The story amazes me for several reasons

1) The father is waiting for his son to return, even though he was considered dead to his son. Once he sees him returning, he runs to him, which in the days of Jesus would have been humiliating for a man of his status to do.

2) The son comes in repentance and asks to be a servant of his father. The father instead takes him back as his son, and extravagantly shows his love as a father by asking for the best robe, shoes, and a ring to be put on him. He also throws a huge celebration, killing the fattened calf. Now my friend Ryne pointed this out to me. The fattened calf would have only been used for a community wide celebration, a block party if you will. To use the calf for anything less was to waste an enormous amount of meat. But this is what the father does.

3) When the other son returns and finds the celebrating going on, he becomes jealous and demands to know why his father's son (note he refuses to acknowledge him as his brother) deserves such treatment.

God's grace isn't fair. Let me repeat, God's grace isn't fair. Think about that, and let the implications sink in. Check out Matthew 20:1-16 and don't be afraid to think and feel that some of the workers got a raw deal.

We don't deserve God's grace, but that is what he offers us. The same grace he offers to us, he offers to all, even those we think don't deserve it. Even to our most hated enemies. Even to Osame Bin Laden and Adolph Hitler.

There are times where I feel as the younger son. I know I have turned from God, but cannot fathom the grace he offers me. And there are times where I feel like the older son but I'll get to that in the next post in a few days...