By Art Fulks -
All of us stray at times. It is our nature, as sheep.
When we read the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15, most of us see the story as primarily being about a rebellious son who, at his lowest point, comes back home to find a compassionate, welcoming father. This story displays an incredible picture of the grace and forgiveness of our Heavenly Father, while providing us a wonderful example of family reconciliation.
It would be safe to say that I have heard this text taught at least 20-30 times over the span of my life. But while recently telling this story to a small group of believers, two probing questions were asked. First, what does the story teach us about God? The answers were consistent, that the grace and mercy of our Heavenly Father are overwhelming.
The next question inquired as to our personal identification with the three main characters. Was it the father, the lost son, or the older brother? Everyone in the group agreed that we could identify with the lost son because of periods of personal rebellion. But when we got below the surface, another common theme was revealed. At some time, we all had been the resentful elder brother who would not even attend the homecoming celebration.
At some point in our lives, many of us have felt resentment toward a sibling, parent, spouse, friend, or co-worker who was rebellious, irresponsible, dishonest, or even adversarial. While we had remained faithful and loyal without any great display of appreciation or notice, the rebellious person experienced grace, favor, and even notoriety.
How do you feel when a lost son comes home and is met with compassion? According to the Apostle Paul, we are given a ministry of reconciliation, yet we often find it difficult to accept. Being reminded of the grace God has extended to us personally can really help us to not only forgive others, but also to rejoice when they experience grace.
Have you partied lately with a returning prodigal?
BIBLE VERSE: “But we had to be merry and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found” (Luke 15: 32 NASB).