Saturday, December 17, 2016

Back Home Again

Today's story is one of those stories where I started out planning to write about one thing and then ended up writing about another. While doing some research yesterday I ran across a sermon by Matt Chandler that convicted me and changed my topic.

Matt was giving a message based on Luke 15 - specifically the Prodigal Son story. I've read the parable many times before. It is a very special passage to me. Why? Because I saw myself in the story. Twice.

When I first read the parable I cried. New in my faith, I reflected on my role as the prodigal with the Father in the story being God. I read it as a convicting story about how I had turned my back on God.

As I increased my knowledge of scripture and read commentaries on the passage I began to see a bigger picture. I began to look at the prodigal's brother more and saw in the story the conflict that arose between the the older brother (the Pharisees) and the prodigal son (us sinners). But that's not the point of the story either.

The story . . . the truly amazing part of this incredible story . . . is the Father, and how He treated both of His sons . . . with compassion and grace.

"20 So he got up and went to his father.“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him." - Luke 15:20

That's wonderful. But the story gets better. When the older brother came home and saw the rejoicing over his younger brother's return, he got angry. VERY angry. This was the father's response.

"31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’” - Luke 15:31-32

The father had compassion for BOTH of his children.

But for a really interesting light on this story, go back to verse one in this chapter and see who Jesus is telling this parable to.

15 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” - Luke 15:1-2

Jesus was speaking to the very people He was describing in the story. And the Pharisees, the older son in the parable, got very angry with Jesus for his telling them this story. So angry in fact, that they eventually killed Him for it and His words.

That was my understanding of the story for the past 10-11 years. I was the prodigal and the Pharisees were just the religious nuts who thought their righteousness set them apart from the lowly sinners. That's what I thought until I listened to a sermon by Matt Chandler.

I not only was the prodigal son . . . I was one of the Pharisees!

The Book of Ephesians tells us that we are to imitate Christ. And if we are to imitate Him in our treatment of others, should we not be showing grace? Should we not be acting like the Father in this story?

As we walk through this world, let us extend grace to ALL we meet. Not just the broken and hurting but to the abortionists, murderers and Muslim terrorists. Our job as I see it displayed in The Bible is to love others as Christ first loved us and to spread the good news, the Gospel, wherever we go.

We are to live IN CHRIST. He is our home. We may stray, we may roam off the path, but our quest in this life is to go home. To get closer to our Lord and Savior. Only by extending HIS grace and HIS mercy to others can we truly be back home again.

Grace Through The Eyes of The Father - Matt Chandler
The Tale of Two Sons - John MacArthur
Back Home Again - John Denver

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