As Christians we rarely see our temptations as copies of the prodigal son. Our flings in a far country are usually associated with the failures of youth than wild rebellious living. We don’t all end up eating pigs swill, and return to our father sobbing out our sins, for our father has never left us completely to our own devices. Our greater temptation is rather that of the elder brother, who never moved away, but never got near his dad. Our temptation, as Christians, is to see all returning prodigals as competitors, coming back is a little too easy, having avoided all the years of long hard work we’ve put in and they, having experienced everything and having blown the family fortune, then get all the fuss, all the love, all the celebrations and acclaim. As if they had done something good and notable. Our temptation is that of the elder brother, who was angry and would not go in, but stood outside waiting to be recognised. One of the great signs of a really bad, but respectable, upright citizen is that he cannot rejoice, he cannot join with the angels of heaven who rejoice over one returned sinner coming home. Instead he resents it. ‘It’s all too easy. He should be made to pay for it.’
Angry Christians are a menace to the Kingdom of God. There’s more about this tomorrow, but for now, here are some words of Jesus.
“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbours together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” Luke 15: 4-7
A Prayer: Lord we can be lost in so many ways – find us, and bring us home rejoicing, and able to rejoice when others come home.
Now read: Luke Chapter 15 and the three ways of being lost … AND FOUND.