The Prodigal Son Is In Good and Regular Standing

ProdigalWhenever the subject of the prodigal son comes up, we picture a young person who has lost his way. We use this story, and rightly so, to show the dangers of a life of aimless, godless living. For many mothers and fathers this story gives hope to the day that their own “prodigal” child returns home. If it could happen for the young man in this biblical account, surely it could happen for us. Amen, somebody.

While all of the above is true I want to point in another direction. I would like us to consider that the prodigal son is in good and regular standing in the church, not a person living a dual life, one way in church but a different and less spiritual way throughout the week.  For the purpose of this discussion, let’s look at it another way.

The problem with the prodigal son is that he took his future and the potential it held and wasted his present opportunities. He believed his choice of lifestyle was in his best interest. I would go so far as to state that he meant no one any harm and that he expected a long and prosperous life. Yet, the net effect of his erroneous choices was a wasted life, up to that point, and a stunning realization that unless he made a drastic change he was doomed. I can’t say it any better than the way it is worded in Luke 15:17, “And when he came to himself.”

Reading this familiar story I was struck by how closely it parallels our lives as typical members of the body of Christ. (Of course this may NOT apply to you!) For all practical purposes we have become prodigal sons and daughters in good and regular standing in the church. Let me explain.

Somehow over the years it has become acceptable to live compartmentalized lives as Christians. Although we keep high moral standards all along the way, we segregate what we do for God and what we do for living in separate buckets. Church, ministry involvement, tithes, offerings, evangelistic campaigns, etc all go into our “God” bucket.

Career choices, professions, business opportunities, recreational pursuits, etc fall into our “Life” bucket. No overt sinning or immoral conduct, simply surviving and thriving to create a better life. And, as we have been trained since childhood, we give these areas of life our focused energies and best resources.

1 Corinthians 10:31 implies a totally different way of living for the believer. “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God”. That text is just a sample of the myriad of texts stating that we have been “bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” 1 Corinthians 6:20

On some small level I am starting to grasp this concept of what it means to have a new mind and to be a new creature. I am starting to realize that for far too many years I wasted my living on riotous living. To paraphrase it for today I am saying that I wasted my best years, my best, most creative energies, my best resources, my best gifts and talents on merely surviving and trying to find enjoyment in my “non-God focused bucket of life.” Moral behavior all along…absolutely. God-inspired and God-led…hardly.

But thanks be to the goodness and grace of God as demonstrated in the biblical account of the prodigal son I can come “home” and be restored. Yes, although I have not put God first and instead used the blessings of life He has given me for my own selfish purposes, He is still welcoming me back with open arms. As I make my way back home, back to a commitment and dedication to Him I am met with eager arms of love and forgiveness.

Not only does He forgive, He restores. And more. After all I’ve wasted, He still presents before me a feast of the best life has to offer. True happiness, fulfillment, peace of mind, purpose and security are all placed before me. A robe has been placed around me signifying my divine royalty. No shame in my game. I am restored. A ring placed on my finger signifies the unbreakable connection restored to me. I am somebody.

The story doesn’t end there. In Luke’s account we see the negative reaction of the brother who remained at home. It reflects the reactions of church members who have born the heat of day and are reluctant to embrace those who have experienced the epiphany as described in the parable.

To this group there is a sense of suspicion towards the “prodigals,” and along with this suspicion a second-guessing of motives and a sense of unfairness. All of which, to some degree, is totally understandable. It’s at times like this we can find guidance and confidence in the father’s impartial response. It echoes Isaiah 55:8, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.”

God has a level of love that is not interested in keeping score. God’s love is far above all slights and remembers no disrespect. It appears to be a love with only one motive – implanting that love in the hearts of men and women, boys and girls.

That love knows that our happiness is wrapped in our connection with Him. Finding our destiny on earth is the essence of our finding in Him our all in all. Finding our senses and coming to our right minds is to remember how big He is and how deep His love has always been and will be forever.




The Prodigal Son Is In Good and Regular Standing — 7 Comments

  1. THANK YOU.......OH how high, how deep, how wide is God's love for us (me). There are no words that can fully express the character of this all knowing, all seeing, everywhere present God. Without beginning and without end. The Holy One, high and lifted up upon His throne whose feet rest upon a sapphire stone...YET HE IS MINDFUL OF ME (US)...OH the depths of HIS LOVE is beyond comprehension...PRAISE GOD, PRAISE GOD. Thank you again!!!!

  2. In the story, both sons are "lost" but only the father knows it. Both sons were self-absorbed and found different ways to gain what they wanted from the father, without recognizing and sharing his character of benevolence. It's only a matter of time and circumstances before we expose our pride and resulting selfishness.

    The solemn reality is only one repents and accepts the fathers forgiveness, and becomes restored to him.

  3. Fine article. It is unbelievably easy to follow the natural inclination and pursue the best of two worlds, the Kingdom of Heaven and the kingdom of this world, in what seems like a 'safe' way. There are benefits in the 'life' bucket not apparent in the 'God' bucket, and why should we be denied these? Why not chase self-actualization (be all one can be and fulfill potential, without consideration for God's purpose)?

    Self-denial and self-sacrifice mark the way of the Cross, which no follower of Christ can simply avoid (Luke 9:23). It is not where we find ourselves, but where we place ourselves, and what we could have, but chose to give up for our Master daily that separates the follower from the admirer of Jesus.

  4. I am really touched. Its a real fact that the prodigals are in good and regular standing in our churches today. One way or the other we portray such character traits and often habour such feelings towards one another. At face value we are a determined lot but deep inside our hearts we are ravenous animals who have created own protectorates and would therefore not take lightly the idea of other members coming back to their senses. I have come to the realisation that we need a heart surgery if not a transplant as echoed by Jeremiah 17:10. Thank God because of His unwavering love, we can stand and be restored in Him without even consulting the "loyal brother".

    Lord help us please that we may understand your love.

  5. I have to kind of disagree with your interpretation. It is the day by day, dropping one drop at a time that fills the bucket. It is my moment by moment, day by day living - trusting in God so that I am giving a loaf of bread, sharing words of encouragement- that affirms that I am a child of God. It is the moment by moment trusting and obeying God that determines the direction of my life. The body functions on a moment by moment basis of regularity through the parasympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system is for emergency use for survival and to keep the body safe. If I lived constantly with the sympathetic nervous system, I would die much sooner (and people do) than if the parasympathetic nervous system is allowed to do the mundane things - eating, having bowel movements - etc - critical for long term survival. Of the 12 disciples rowing in a storm, only 1 got out. The others were obeying the command of Jesus. He told them to row and meet Him on the other side of the river.

  6. Thanks; it is a nice article. There is only one bucket and not two. We need to meditate and to reflect God's mercy and His compassion with others in and out of the church. Galatians 2:20 "I have been crucified with Jesus; and it is no longer I who live, but Jesus lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

  7. Note: the "ring" was a symbol of the Fathers authority, with it were sealed legal documents. The Father is showing his son that He trusts him with all he has. Now that truly is forgiveness!


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