Tuesday, May 30, 2017

What is this Mystery of the Gospel Anyway?

Ah, so it seems that the mystery is still a mystery. 

If you look on the internet or in Christian bookstores you will find it. If you listen to preachers either in your home church or through online sermons you will hear it. But it seems the one place we have forgotten to search for it is the only place it is actually found. What is it? It is the Mystery; more specifically the mystery of the Gospel.

Paul spoke about it as though it had not only been revealed to him but as though he had also revealed it to the church. Yet, it seems we have either missed it or have buried it.

Many who speak on the explanation of what this mystery is seem to have misunderstood its purpose and representation. This has in this writer’s opinion led to a plethora of wrong theology and structure within the body of Christ. Before I get into what I believe is the explanation of the mystery I want to give an examples of this error that best exemplifies the common misunderstanding. The example below is from a well-known Biblical scholar of today and this example shows a common view held among today’s Christian scholars on the subject of the mystery of the Gospel.

  • The union of man and woman in marriage is a mystery because it conceals, as in a parable, a truth about Christ and the church. The divine reality hidden in the metaphor of marriage is that God ordained a permanent union between His Son and the church. Human marriage is the earthly image of this divine plan. As God willed for Christ and the church to become one body (Gal. 3:28; 1 Cor. 12:13), so He willed for marriage to reflect this pattern—that the husband and wife become one flesh (Gen. 2:24).

Sounds good so far…

  • The inference…”

But here is where we get into trouble. When we start inferring what Christ meant in what He said. The above statement is true to be sure. Marriage is a picture of Christ and the church but the inference we draw is where things get just fuzzy enough that it causes us to err. Let’s read the example further.

  • “…what Paul draws from this mystery is that the roles of husband and wife in marriage are not arbitrarily assigned but are rooted in the distinctive roles of Christ and His church. Therefore husbands and wives should consciously copy the relationship God intended for Christ and the church.– John Piper

Sounds harmless at first and even possibly Biblical but is it right?

Sure we are to model Christ’s behavior. That is a true statement. Yes, husbands and wives are to live in relationship with each other that will properly show the relationship between Christ and the church. Once again I have no problem with this part of the statement. The part that gets us into trouble is the part that tells us we have inferred that there are distinctive roles for the husband and wife in marriage but the explanations we teach of those roles and the picture that marriage is to provide of Christs relationship to the church are not rooted in scripture as explained by scripture but rather scripture as explained by inference.
Let me stop here and say that I by no means have a complete understanding of this topic but I understand enough to know that we have somewhere missed the mark on this topic and are giving a wrong picture of Christ and the church to the world. 

The picture we give through our teaching is that the husband takes on the pictorial role of Christ and the wife takes on the pictorial role of the sinner in need of redemption. We draw this conclusion from the passage in Ephesians 5. Later in this same passage Paul is very clear what the mystery is.

In his letter to the Colossians Paul is equally as clear as to the nature and understanding of the mystery.  Now normally in my writing I give scripture references but do not necessarily post the scripture text. This is because I want you to look for yourselves and discover but today I want us all to look at the scripture together to see what I am writing about. We will begin in Ephesians and then look at Colossians.

  • ·        For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. Ephesians 5:31-32

  • ·        For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles—  if indeed you have heard of the stewardship of Gods grace which was given to me for you; that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief. By referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit; to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel, of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of Gods grace which was given to me according to the working of His power. Ephesians 3:1-7

  • ·        To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things; so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places. This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, Ephesians 3:9-11

  • ·        Of this church I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, so that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God, that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Colossians 1:25-27

  • ·        that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself, Colossians 2:2

What we learn from these passages is that Paul is instructing the church that the mystery is indeed the relationship between Christ and the church but the point is the unifying of two people into one body in relationship with Christ through the sacrifice of his blood.

The mystery is not that Christ is in authority over all the church. This is a misleading statement as if Christ had to accomplish what he did in order to gain authority. 

First, the purpose of Christ’s redemptive work was to restore creation to its rightful place and relationship to its Creator and itself. Christ’s authority was never in jeopardy due to the fall of man. Christ’s authority was never in question due to the fall of man. Christ’s authority need not be restored for it was never lost or marred.  Christ is in authority over all of creation not just the church. He has a relationship with all things not just the church. All of creation is involved. Some live in a restored relationship of unity with their creator and their fellow man while others still live in separation.

This is the picture of Christ and the church not that the marriage portrays the distinctive roles for husbands and wives but that the restoration of relationships occurs in Christ; two people, the Jews and the Gentiles; husband and wife become one flesh, people, body. If subordination and hierarchy are to be portrayed in the marriage relationship by husband and wife with husband as Christ and wife as the church and this example is the picture of the joining of the Jews and Gentiles into one body then the question must be asked are the Jews in authority over the Gentiles? Are Gentiles to submit to Jews in the church? If so, then how? How do we see this put into motion today?  It is my understanding that Christ didn’t die to set up earthly roles for human beings. He died to restore and to unify.

When we interpret the mystery this traditional way as seen in the example first given at the beginning of this blog post it gives the implication that only one person in the marriage is to mirror the example of Christ in the world while the other portrays the example of fallen man in the world restored by Christ. Yet we know that all believers are to be the example of Christ in the world. Men see themselves as Redeemers while women view themselves in need of redemption by man whether consciously or subconsciously. This particular interpretation of the mystery also sets man up as master to be obeyed and followed and woman is set up to do the obeying and following. Many claim as by their natural state.

  • Women by the ordinary law of nature are born to obey, for all wise men have always rejected government by women as an unnatural monstrosity. – John Calvin

It is my argument that the picture the mystery is to portray through the marriage relationship is that of two people being united in Christ. The Jews and the Gentiles were united in Christ into one people; one body but notice also that men and women were united, slave and free, circumcised and uncircumcised and even Barbarian and Scythian.

  • ·        For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise. Galatians 3:26-29

  • ·        and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him— a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all. Colossians 3:10-11

Some argue that these passages refer only to the spiritual aspects of man through salvation and do not remove or deal with physical barriers.

  • as far as equality is concerned, neither male nor female refers only to equal access to the blessings of salvation through Jesus Christ. The context warrants no other conclusion. – Jack Cottrell

But I again must disagree. I disagree with this assessment of these verses because while it is through the sacrifice of Christ that all men are unified into one body and salvation is made available to all it is through the renewing of the mind as seen in Colossians 3:10-11 that these distinctions should disappear between us as human beings. It is through the renewing of the mind that we should see our relationships with Christ differently as well as our relationships with each other. There were tangible physical differences that took place for each of the groups mentioned in both the Galatians and Colossians passages. 
The veil was torn for all people. Technically, in light of Christ women, Greeks, barbarians, and slaves were allowed into the Holy of Holies not just the Jewish high priest. All were adopted as ‘sons’ by God.

  • ·        He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, Ephesians 1:6

  •      But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, Abba! Father! Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.  Galatians 4:4-7

There are many more verses that use this same phrase “adoption as sons.” Many who try to minimize the gender influences in the Bible do a great disservice to those who seek to truly understand. They are also wiping away the very thing they are trying to prove. Many believe that these male and female pronouns are the result of cultural influence and as such need to be corrected for today’s understanding but this is a grievous error. The above two verses as well as all others that use this same phrase make the point not only of cultural influence but of God’s understanding and transcendence of this cultural influence for those who become His children.

You see only sons could receive the inheritance in first century Middle Eastern culture. This is why these verses are so great. God adopts us all as sons so that we all receive the same inheritance through Christ. There are reasons which I will not go into in this post as to why the cultural influence is necessary as an integral part of the plan of Creation and how Christ’s sacrifice and subsequent victory place us all high above them. For now, I will leave it at we according to scripture are all “adopted as sons” and as adopted sons all share the same rights and responsibilities as sons of God.

Please don’t get me wrong gender differences are important and should be respected, honored and celebrated but they should not be used as barriers or platforms.

 I encourage you all to do a scripture study of the “Mystery” for a fuller understanding of this topic. I also welcome discussion on this point as long as the sources of the conversation come from scripture first and inference/cultural influences second.

As I stated previously, I have by no means come to a full understanding of this topic. What I think I begin to understand today may be changed by increased illumination into the things of God through His Holy Spirit that dwells in me but this one thing I do know. We have done a great disservice to the world’s understanding of the mystery when we make it about one role taking the position of Christ while the other takes the position of the repentant sinner. We are all sinners in need of Christ and as such none can serve in the position of Christ save Jesus Christ alone.

If this is the picture to be portrayed then the hierarchy must remain intact thus making Greeks submissive to Jews in both the physical and the spiritual realm.
The mystery is about the unifying of two people/groups which is only found in relationship with Christ. This is the relationship of two people operating in equality as one in the power and authority of Christ.

In Christ we have restored relationships. The Jew and the Greek can enjoy unity and equality only when united in Christ. Man and woman can only represent the mystery when we understand that we both represent people who need Christ and only in relationship with Him can we be properly united into one body in equality with each other.

This is the mystery.

[1] New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (Eph 3:8–11). La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.
[2] New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (Col 1:25–27). La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.
[3] New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (Col 2:2). La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.
[4] New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (Ga 3:26–29). La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.
[5] New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (Col 3:10–11). La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.
[6] New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (Eph 1:5). La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.
[7] New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (Ga 4:4–7). La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Long Walk Home pt. 2: A Fresh Look at the Older Brother

In this second post concerning Luke 15 and the Prodigal Son I want to take another look at the older brother in the story.

We are all familiar with the actions of the father but what we tend not to focus on are the actions of the firstborn son. You remember the older brother who became angry at the reception his younger brother received upon returning home; the older brother who believed that he was right and deserved his position and estate. This is the brother we will look at today.

We as Americans see him as the one who is justifiably outraged even though we concede that his attitude was not right. We believe he did what was right. He stayed home and took care of the family. He didn’t squander or even ask for his inheritance. He didn’t leave the family. He was right all along…right?

Well, maybe not, let’s look again.

The first thing I want us to notice in the story is that the father has been looking for the son and the implication is that he had been looking ever since the son left home. In fact, when the son returns home we are told that the father sees him before he see the father.  The father has been looking all along desperately hoping for the return of his son so that his family would be whole again; if his son returns home honor will be restored to the family and his son will be safe again.

But where is the older son? Why wasn’t he looking?

Recall in my last post on the Prodigal that I explain the difference between an Individualist culture like America and a Collectivist culture such as that of the Jewish people. If you would like to refresh your memory you can read Part 1 on the Prodigal Son here.

In a collectivist culture because the older son had already been handed his inheritance he would have been known as the new head of the family but since the father was still living it was honorable to allow him to keep his position as head until he died. This meant that in order to show proper respect for his father and to protect the honor of the family it would have been the duty of the older son to seek the restoration of the family honor through the return of the wayward younger brother. This would have included looking for the younger son and seeking his restoration back into the family. This should have been the older son’s greatest desire because when the family is honored everyone benefits and his father would be alleviated of his suffering.

What we see instead is that the older son’s actions and attitude really aren’t different than the younger son’s. Sure the older brother didn’t leave home or squander his inheritance but his heart was seeking his own desires just like the younger son. His heart had no concern for the honor and safety of the family or his father. He was only concerned with his own honor and safety. He was concerned about keeping what was his.

 It must also be recognized that the older son’s actions brought about the same amount of dishonor to the father as the younger son’s.

Remember that the father handed out the inheritance to both sons. Recall that the Mishna stated that it was inadvisable to hand out inheritances while you are alive because if the you as a father fall into need you will have to ask for the inheritance back from your children and thus bring dishonor to the family.

Look again at the conversation between the father and the older son in Luke 15. The honorable thing for the older son to do would have been to give whatever the father asked without argument because he loved, honored, and respected his father. But in arguing and pointing out the younger son’s sins he was essentially taking the seat of authority over his father.

Notice his father pleads with him to understand. The father doesn’t demand that the older son simply accept what has happened. This is because what was left of the father’s estate had been handed down to the older son and this would have been the double portion. The double portion given to the firstborn was the indicator that the firstborn son was now the new head of the family as I stated before. The older brother in the story of the prodigal was now head of the family legally but it was honorable to allow the father to continue to operate in that position until he died. And in all respects the estate was rightfully the estate of the father to begin with. The father chose to hand it down but it was all rightfully his initially and rightfully his to handle until his death.

The older son in arguing and becoming angry with the father was causing his father to plead and beg for the blessing he wanted to bestow upon the younger son.  The older son was the cause of great dishonor upon his father and his family. Through this action we see that he is found to be just as guilty as the younger brother in dishonoring the family, and seeking his own desires.

What we don’t see in the story is a change of heart in the older brother. Much like the book of Jonah which ends with Jonah greatly lamenting that God saved a non-Jewish people from destruction the parable ends without the resolution we seek. The older brother as far as we know never changes his attitude.

Here is the point in all of this.  We, brothers and sisters in Christ, who have stayed with the church have the potential to be the older brother in the story of the prodigal. Now, this parable is indeed speaking about the relationship between the Jewish people and the Gentiles but there are further applications that remain here for us. 

We certainly can act the part of the Jews when we condemn those who walk away whether there leaving is willfully rebellion or as a result of deception rather than doing all we can to honor our father by seeking the restoration of our prodigal brothers and sisters.

There are those who have left God and the church for various reasons but most commonly they have left because 

WE have not valued the honor of the family of Christ

We have not understood that when God as our Father receives ultimate honor we benefit with honor for ourselves and increased opportunity in this world in which we currently live. We have not sought the safety of all over our own safety for the honor of our family and Father.

Restoration should always be our goal.

Not just in word and “prayer” but in actions. We should be out with the Father looking for the return of our brothers or sisters from the moment they decide to walk away 

-no matter what their motivation for doing so is

After all who are we to judge another man’s servant? (Romans 14:4) We should value their safety and honor over that of our own or our religion. Because... 

when they are restored honor is restored. 

We have instead valued religion and whatever benefit we believe we receive from our religion. All too often religion is protected above people and yes, at times at the cost of people.

For some the safety and perceived stability religion provides is what is valued and if those are threatened in any way religion is defended over protecting the honor of the family of God. We cover up things like power struggles, affairs, child abuse, gossip, the mishandling of God’s Word and more in order to protect the honor of religion whatever chosen denomination it may be. We believe that protecting the denomination protects the Holy name of God.

The problem is that when we protect the religious denomination over the person we dishonor the name of God. We bring shame and loss of opportunity for His family. We demean the name and work of Christ who was the means through which the estate was gained.

We like the older son don’t realize that our hearts are just as far away from the Father as the Prodigal who left his home and people. 

We sit in our estate that we did not earn and demand that the Father beg us 

to join in rejoicing in the restoration of honor to the family. Judgment and self-righteousness are chosen over love for our Father and each other.

We leave people to take the long walk home alone putting them in danger and causing loneliness and great dishonor for us all.

Works Cited

MJL Staff. What is the Mishna. n.d. www.myjewishlearning.com/article/mishnah (accessed May 16, 2017).
New American Standard Bible. LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation., 1995: Update.
Richards, E. Randolph, and Brandon J. O'Brien. Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes: Removing Cultural Blinders to Better Understand the Bible. Downers Grove, IL.: InterVarsity Press, 2012.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

The Long Walk Home

I heard a song this morning based on the prodigal son and something in this song made me think of an aspect of the story I had never really thought of before. Luke 15 tells us that the prodigal son had traveled to a distant or far away land after he took his inheritance and left home. 

I have been on a quest of late to learn to recognize when I am interpreting scripture purely from my own Western (American) understanding so that I can see and understand God’s Word in a broader light. The American mindset and the Middle Eastern mindset is vast.
  • ·         Americans prize individualism while Middle Eastern cultures are built on collectivism.
  • ·         Americans value self-worth, personal accomplishments along with personal pride in these two things but collectivist cultures pay close attention to how individual actions affect the family or group as a whole.
  • ·         Americans live a life of being prideful or ashamed. Collectivist cultures live by the code of honor and shame.

Before I go further it is important to note that shame and shaming or being ashamed are two distinct concepts and should not be confused as similar or the same. In a collectivist culture a person can either bring honor to their family or dishonor (shame). In accordance with this each personal decision is weighed out keeping these two factors in mind:
  • ·         Will this action or decision bring honor to my family or group?
  • ·         Will this action or decision bring shame upon my family or group?

Another aspect of this way of living and thinking is that the ultimate goal in families and communities is to bring as much honor as possible to the head of the family or group. This is because in collectivist cultures honor brings opportunities and dishonor removes opportunities for families, groups, and individual members. If the family was honored everyone benefited with increased or continued opportunity. However, if one individual brought shame upon the family or group the whole group suffered in that opportunities would be removed from all members of that family or group.

With this understanding in mind I want to look again at the story of the prodigal Son in Luke 15.

The younger son in the parable asks the father for his portion of the inheritance.
Immediately we as American’s have a couple of misunderstanding or things that we might not catch because we just don’t understand the culture.

In Jewish culture unlike in the West a father did not have to die in order for an inheritance to be passed on. It was within the rights of the father to hand out the inheritance at any time he saw fit. But because this handing down of the inheritance before death had caused problems in the past it was noted in the Mishna (The most basic definition of the Mishna is that it is the written account of the oral law of the Torah.) that it was not advisable to hand down inheritances while the father lived because if he found that he became in need he would have to ask for the inheritance back from his children. This would cause dishonor and as such should be avoided. 

Never-the-less it was still the legal right of the father to decide for himself if he desired to hand out inheritances while he still lived.

One interesting aspect of the story is that it was not the right of the son to demand the inheritance. While it was the father’s right to decide the timing of inheritances it was his right alone and according to Jewish customs he could not be coerced into handing out the inheritance at any certain time by his children. This too would have been seen as bringing dishonor to the family.

Next, if a father did divide the inheritance while he was still alive no one was allowed to sell that inheritance for money or dispose of the property. Neither the father nor the sons could do so.

This explains what we see next in the story. In Luke 15 we see that a few days after the younger son receives his inheritance he gathers everything that he had and leaves. The son travels not just across town to strike out on his own but instead goes to a distant land. Scripture tells us that it is there the son squanders all of his estate. So why did the son go so far away?

Remember, it was illegal for the son to sell or dispose of the property he had inherited while his father was still alive. Everyone he knew in his home land would have known that he had received his inheritance from his father and that his father was still alive. Consequently, since no one wanted to be guilty of enabling a son to bring shame or dishonor to his father thus bringing shame to their own families the son would not have been able to sell or squander any of the estate he had inherited while still in his home town.

It was necessary for the son to travel a long distance away so that he could use the inheritance as he pleased while his father still lived. He had to travel to a place far enough away so that no one knew him or how he had obtained his estate. He needed to become a stranger.

That’s exactly what he did. We see that the son travels not just to a distant land but to a land of Gentiles. This was as far away as a Jew could get from home. It was here that the son could be sure that he would not be hindered by his family connections. He was free to do and act as he pleased.
In these actions of both demanding an inheritance while his father lived and moving to a distant land to squander that estate the son was sending the message that he wished his father were dead. Moving to a distant land would have added even more dishonor to the family and the father.

Next, Luke tells us that after squandering everything the son realizes what he has done and begins the journey back home. Sure, we like the older son in the story could focus on the squandering but it is a better use of our time in my opinion to focus on the returning and our role in aiding it.
Notice that the son plans and rehearses what he is going to say to his father once he sees him again. 

The son purposely traveled not only to a distant land but he traveled to a distant people as well. 

He gave up his family and his people. 

It is only when the son realizes that the people he was living among cared nothing for him that he began to realize what he had really given up. He desired to belong again to a family; a people. He began to see what he was missing.

He missed being connected to a people in that shame/honor society where he would be cared for. He missed having those who would look out for him and his welfare. In a collectivist culture it was unthinkable not to take care of your family because it would bring dishonor. The best way I can describe it in American terms would be that there is a real sense of team in a collectivist culture and this is what the son was missing; to be valued and to value others for the sake of the whole because as I stated before when the whole family benefits from honor each individual benefits. There is safety and security here.

So we see the son set out on his long journey home.
In a collectivist culture it is seen as a great danger and sadness for anyone to go anywhere alone. They always travel in groups and at the very least a group of two people. So the fact that we see this son traveling alone in this parable would have evoked great sadness in the Jewish audience as it should in us as well.

So there the son is alone with a long, difficult walk ahead of him. Not only did the distance make this walk home a long one but the circumstances surrounding why he had to walk so far would have added to the hard walk home.

With every step the son recalled his past decisions. Each step would remind him just how far away from home he had gone and why he had traveled so far. We see the son rehearsing as he walks home what he will say to his father in hopes that he just might be accepted back into the family even if it is as a servant. The son doesn’t even consider the state of being a servant in his father’s house as anything dishonorable. He just wants to make it home any way he can.

The son had been forever changed by his experience. He had gained a new understanding of the family, of his father, of honor. 

But though he understood them differently he also understood himself differently. Would they understand as well? He could only hope and have faith in what he knew of his father.

What a difficult walk home.

We are not told how long the son lived in this distant land only that he had nothing left. He had no food, no provisions for this trip. We already know that he was hungry. He had squandered everything in a land that was now engulfed in famine. He was so hungry that he as a Jew took a job feeding pigs and considered eating with those pigs.

Now, that’s a hungry Jew!

We also know from the story that he had come to realize that no one in this distant land cared for him at all.

This son was hungry, tired, and knew all too well that he was alone

…and now he must walk the great distance to get back home without assurance that he would be accepted again.

All he had left was hope and just enough faith to take each step.

Hope that he would make it safely home. Hope that his father would accept him. Hope that this family would accept him. He hoped in the goodness of home.

We know this trip was an emotionally and physically difficult one from what we see in scripture. Not only was the son alone, hungry, and tired but he was concerned about how he would be received once he reached home.We see in the story that the son rehearses what he will say to his father.

How often when we are unsure of the outcome of a situation do we rehearse our lines in hopes of being understood? In hopes of being accepted?

This journey home was a difficult journey, possibly in part because of the distance or terrain though we are not told but certainly because of the difficulty of retracing the very steps that led the son to his current situation; 

the steps that took him away from home and caused him to lose everything.

I can’t help but think how much easier that journey could have been if the son were not alone as he walked. How much easier and safer his journey would have been if his older brother were out searching for him to make certain he made it home because he loved him. Because he loved his father and desired his honor be restored more than his own comfort and pride.

There are so many today that for one reason or another have left God and His family. Some are bravely taking those necessary steps back home but it is a long difficult trip. It is a journey full of danger, self-doubt and apprehension.

Am I taking the right path? Is this the way home I cannot remember for sure? Will my Father accept me? Do I remember Him correctly? Will I make it there safely or will I get lost and hurt along the way?

It is also a journey of amazing faith that says I remember that my Father is good and the trip is worth it.

Still what a beautiful and honorable thing it would be if God’s children who stayed with the family would go out searching for their prodigal brothers and sisters and help them come safely home again.

How it would ease their journey if we would meet them with food and provisions and the safety and comfort that comes with traveling together. How it would strengthen their resolve and faith if we would listen while we walk as they recount their experiences away from home and what they have learned about themselves and life. What a restorative action it would be if we would prove their faith in God’s unconditional love for them and acceptance of them just as they are through our own actions and desires. My, how time would fly; why…you would both be home before you knew it. 

What a beautifully enjoyable walk that would be!

Works Cited

MJL Staff. What is the Mishna. n.d. www.myjewishlearning.com/article/mishnah (accessed May 16, 2017).
New American Standard Bible. LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation., 1995: Update.

Richards, E. Randolph, and Brandon J. O'Brien. Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes: Removing Cultural Blinders to Better Understand the Bible. Downers Grove, IL.: InterVarsity Press, 2012.