Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Prodigal Church? Part 3

Today we are going to look at how we can make the church a more welcoming place for both those represented by the 'younger' and 'elder' sons in Jesus' "Parable of the Prodigal Son." The church as it is isn't usually a very comfortable place for either party. We are either constantly trying to prove how good we are or constantly being told how bad we are and neither situtation makes us long to be in the church because it is not a place where we can find rest. But the church, in its true form, is a place we should long to be because it should be a place where all people can find rest.

If we could move our churches towards a state of repentance in which we would all acknowledge that we consistently sin and consistently need the grace and forgiveness of God, I think the tone and feel of our churches would shift dramatically. If we consistently realign ourselves to acknowledge our lowliness in the face of God's majesty, then it would be very difficult for us to both jockey for favor, point fingers, and brashly believe that we deserve everything good that the world has to offer.

Last week, I wrote about how the elder son and the younger son are really more alike than we would think. They are both trying to manipulate God into giving them what they want. The older son uses morality in a "magical thinking" sort of way: if I do everything right and make no mistakes, God will have to give me what I want and believe I need. The younger son uses brashness: boldy (and disrespectfully) demanding that he be given what he wants. Neither son is valuing the father for who he is and what he has done for them - they are simply using him as a means to their ends.

As Christians, we all need to take a good, hard look at ourselves and ask if we really value what God has done for us: From the first act of Creation through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for our sins, to his constant pursuit of our hearts. We can't ever be good enough to earn God's forgiveness and grace but God loves us enough to freely give it to us. We, as sinners, have no right to ask God for anything, yet God has given us that opportunity through his desire to be in relationship with us. If we can take an honest inventory of ourselves and see how small and undeserving we truly are, then maybe we can finally begin to glimpse the value of God's sacrifice in Jesus Christ for us and slowly begin to reflect the love and mercy he gives us to those around us.

If the church could become a place that is made up of "prodigals" - people who spend recklessly all that they have and are for God and his kingdom, rather than for themselves , how would that change the world?