Last weekend we re-explored the “lost” parables with a particular focus on the “Lost Son” but we did it in a way that wasn’t solely focused on the younger (or prodigal) brother. Instead, we looked at the older brother and the father a little more centrally.
Similar to the parables of the “Lost Coin” and the “Lost Sheep”, the story begins with someone or something that is lost and then a searcher that is desperate to find that which was lost. The “Lost Son” however kept going even after the prodigal was found. We then discover that another central character was not happy at all at this now found younger brother and it reminds me that our understanding of God is still very misconstrued at times.
I grew up in a time where “right living” was prized in the church above almost all else. It wasn’t unusual for someone to fear that God had it out for them (or me) because of some failing in our lives. He was often framed as a judge (which he is) that is looking to pass down punishments to those that didn’t follow his rules which eventually led to a picture of God that seemed completely foreign from the one Jesus tells us about in the parable of the “Lost Son”.
Instead of a father sitting on the porch and scanning the horizon for any glimpse of his lost son, we often develop a picture of a father that doesn’t want to have anything to do with you unless you are absolutely perfect.
But, that’s not the picture any of these parables tell! The searcher for the lost coin didn’t stop searching in every nook and cranny until the coin was found. Likewise, the searcher for the lost sheep was willing to leave the 99 until he could find the 1. This father was also diligently searching for this prized and valuable possession to be found and he didn’t rest until it was.
This is the image of God that we see all over scripture. God isn’t portrayed as an angry judge, he’s portrayed as a loving and anxious father to find what has been lost!
Wether you are committed to a life of faith or if you are just asking some questions about it all, this is the image of God we should have in our minds when we think about God’s love for us and for everyone else.
Like the older brother in our parable from Sunday, I sometimes slip into the role of the older brother. I get upset with others that don’t seem to be as serious about following Jesus as I think they should and I even assume that God is as upset as I am but this is just not true!
God is anxiously looking for that which is lost and He is incredibly excited when he sees them come home (even if they are still a mess). How can we carry this same heart to our own homes, our communities, our workplaces and our families?
Please don’t hear me say that the pursuit of holiness and righteousness isn’t important. It definitely is! Perhaps God would rather us pursue holiness out of love for Him instead of out of the fear of punishment.
What a beautiful opportunity that can be.