Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Greatest Story Ever Told...and You're in It!

"Don't you know, son, that I love you
And I don't care where you've been
Yes, and I'll be right here waiting
Til you come around the bend
And I'll run to you and hold you close
And won't let go again
So Please Come Home"

-Please Come Home, by Dustin Kensrue

I always liked the story of the Prodigal Son. It's a story of redemption and celebration. But I never fully understood its meaning until I had an epiphany this morning while singing along to Dustin Kensrue's song about it.

The story of the Prodigal Son is a parable of Jesus. In the story, a young man takes an early inheritance from his father. He quickly goes out and squanders his fortune on the pleasures of the world. With no more money and nothing to eat, he remembers his father and returns home to repent and make amends. Upon seeing his son, the father rejoices and throws a huge party to celebrate.

I always assumed that the story of the Prodigal Son was about somebody else. I thought, this is a story about a Christian person who went astray for awhile and then came back to obedience after realizing that a rebellious lifestyle is not fulfilling. I've been a Christian since childhood and never lived a wild lifestyle. This story can't be about me.

I think that most of us assume this story is about somebody else. We do this usually for one of two reasons. Either we put faith in our own "goodness" or else we feel that we have no reason for celebration. The truth is, this story is about all of us.

My own assumption that this story is not about me was wrong, because I am not righteous. The good things that I think that I do are like filthy rags to the only holy God. I cannot assume that I have always been there by His side, living according to His will. I was born into sin and death and have gone astray.

But upon my return, I was not met with scorn. My Father rejoices! He loves me so much, despite the things that I have done against him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

We must understand the magnitude of the miracle of salvation. Although we deserve destruction and separation from God, we are welcomed back into his embrace when we return to Him in repentance. And He celebrates our return!

I urge you all to return to our Father, living a life of repentance. Offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing, and perfect will.