And in there was the dichotomy of our free will and a God who desires that none should perish. And after it Jesus expands on what all of that means.
He tells us another story. Actually, he tells us 4 stories. He tells us the story of a young man who left. He tells us the story of a young man who stayed. And he tells us their father’s story of both of them.
The 1st son’s story of himself is one of pride; of disrespect, not only of his father and family on a personal level but also bringing shame on them throughout their whole community; of a rejection of authority; of a rejection of love.
The 2nd sons’ story is also one of pride; of acceptance of authority for the wrong reasons; of a rejection of love.
The father’s story for the both of them was one in which they were still his sons even after all they had done and thought and said.
Even as the first son disowned his family, as he lay in a pig pen, covered in mud and filth, even as he begged to be a slave, the father knew the real story of the boy, that he was always and could never have been anything other than his son.
Even as the 2nd son hardened his heart, as he maligned his brother, even as he never stopped to realize the true nature of his father, the father knew the real story of the 2nd boy, that he was always and could never have been anything other than his son.
There are consequences of the story we choose to believe about ourselves.
The 1st son thought he could take what he wanted but took the wrong thing. And once all his illusions of security had dried up and faded away, he tried to see what he could give to get back into the good graces of his father.
What kind of deal can we make with God in order to make him love us?
The 2nd son though he could give enough to please his father but gave the wrong thing. And when he discover that his illusion of worth was torn apart, he tried to guilt the father into giving to him but again asked for the wrong thing.
Which of our “good” deeds can we hold over God so that he will see things our way?
1st son- his consequence was to live alone far longer than he should have.
2nd son- his consequence was the same. Being alone. Even alone in the midst of a huge celebration.
I have often expressed how God views our worth and about how if we could start to see what Christ saw, that Fulfilled Kingdom of God, we would be able to understand that our worth is based solely and alone on who we are to God.
That’s part of the story that Jesus tells us here.
1st son- worth based on what he could get from the father, both leaving and coming.
2nd son- worth based on what he could do for the father.
The father seems to dismiss those reasons entirely and base their worth on who they are to him. Both sons. Both valued the same and both having unlimited access to the father and his love.
How often do we base our worth on what God can give us? Health, money, good family.
And if we do, what does it say about God and our worth when we find we do not have those things?
And stuck in that view, we find ourselves crawling back to God on our bellies, begging of God to let us be less than something we really are.
How often do we base our worth on what we can do for God? Church attendance, tithing, missionary work, being nice to people.
And if we do, what does it say to us about God and our worth when we find that we can’t always live up to those expectations?
And stuck in that view, we find ourselves towering over God trying to twist his arm so that he will give us our right and fair share of something we never earned.
There are consequences when it comes to which story about ourselves we will believe.
CS Lewis once said that in the end, there are really only two kinds of people in the world– those who say to God, “Thy will be done.” and those to whom God says, “Thy will be done.”
You get to choose your story from a wide variety of sources. Choose the story that comes from the one that truly knows you and knows what you are worth.