Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Message of the Prodigal ...

I notice that pride, particularly religious pride (the sort that was focused on sidelining and excluding others) was the only issue that Jesus railed against. He met the "sinners" where they were ... was known (derisively) as "friend of sinners" and was accused of being a drunkard (oh, and in cahoots with the devil, too).

Makes me wonder if those of us who "keep sinning," and those of us who "keep pointing fingers at those who keep sinning" haven't both missed the point ... wondering if it's all a matter of not yet encountering the living Presence of Christ, who alone can touch hearts and transform lives, from the inside-out ...?

Wondering, too, if we haven't gotten the nature of God "all wrong"...?

I can't help but recall Jesus' story of the prodigal (which is really a story about the heart & nature of the Father) ... in this story the father is in every way the total opposite of the expected male patriarch. He allows the son to make choices against him, and even empowers him to do so by giving him the inheritance. Later, when the son has come to his senses (after coming to learn from the consequences of his choices -- the only way we seem to learn), the Father refuses to exercise his right to restore order, or impose a punishment. Both the son's leaving and the son's returning are seen as both necessary and painful -- a gift of adult freedom. The God I experience from this story is a Father who refuses to "own" us, refuses to demand our submission, refuses to punish our rebellion. This God respects our freedom, mourns for our perceived alienation, waits patiently (& expectantly) for our return, and accepts our (mixed-motived) love as a gift. When the Father speaks to the disgruntled older brother, I see a God who teaches us to not prefer the security of law over the adventure of grace.

And most shocking of all, I see this: The power God refuses to assume over us is surely *not* given by God to any human over another...!

I see that we get this penchant to rule over others, to correct others, to control others' thoughts and actions, *not* from Jesus, but from the Pharisees Jesus rebuked.

Shalom, Dena

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