In our “Advent Groups” a fortnight ago, we were looking at John the Baptist and his call for repentance.
The study chimed a note with me concerning a book I have just read as part of our Antioch group discussions called The Prodigal God by Tim Keller. In it he explores the parable of the father and the two sons in Luke 15 . In the parable, we usually focus on the rebellious younger son, who takes his share of the family fortune and goes off to spend it on the good life. However, he eventually runs out of money and is forced into the most disgusting of jobs for a Jew feeding pigs. Eventually he comes to his senses and goes back to the loving forgiving father, who welcomes him with open arms. This is a most wonderful picture of the freegrace given by a loving God to a repentant sinner.
However, that is only part of the story. If we look at the whole of the chapter, we see that there are three stories about things that are lost and were found, and it is directed against the scribes and Pharisees who were criticising Jesus for welcoming sinners. In the third parable, we see a disconnect with the other two: in the first two, we see someone going out to search and find the one which was lost. In the third, we might ask, “where is the seeker”? We have to look at the elder brother in the story: he was being a good Jewish boy, staying at home and working on the farm, but what were his heart motives? We see from his reaction to the lavish feast given for the repentant younger brother that he is more in love with his inheritance than with love for his father.
The story posed a massive question for me: where was my first love? Was it actually for my loving heavenly Father, or had the practice of religion become a substitute for the overwhelming love of our heavenly Father who sent his Son Jesus to rescue us by his death on the cross and Resurrection to life in which we can all share? The older son in the story did not share His Father’s heart of love, to seek out the one who was lost.
Our stated aim as a community at TRINITY is: to see lives transformed by the love of Christ.
Only as individuals opening our hard hearts to be melted and enraptured by a loving Saviour can we pour out his welcoming, transforming love on a needy world. The arms of Jesus are always open wide for us to run into, and to be welcomed back by a loving Saviour.