Over the last few weeks my pastor has been teaching through Luke 15. This chapter has the parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin and the prodigal son. If you aren't familiar with these stories, you can read the chapter pretty quickly here. It has been a really challenging few weeks for me. When looking at the Prodigal son parable, he pointed out that there are 2 ways to be alienated from God:
1. The first way is to go off and break all the rules. Basically a mindset of "show me the rules and I will break them." Blatant rebellion and disobedience.
2. The second is to make the rules your god. Basically a mindset of "show me the rules and I will keep them so well that I don't need a Savior."
The 2 sons are the example of the two ways to alienate yourself from God. I think there is much to learn from both, so I am going to share some key things that challenged me during these sermons. Here are a few key points that hit me about the second type of alienation:
- Jesus tells these parables to the Pharisees because they were grumbling about Him eating with "sinners" and tax collectors. Its important to keep that in mind when thinking about this second son, because this is who he is modeled after- the Pharisees.
- The two brothers weren't that different. They wanted the same things, they just went about getting them differently. The younger brother demanded his inheritance and went and lived it up. The older brother wanted the Father's fattened calf etc, but tried to earn his way to it.
- Self-Righteous people (like the Older brother) are angry and resentful at themselves for not being good enough, at others for reminding them they are not good enough, and at God for not noticing how good they are.
- Religious people are joyless because they live their life in fear that they wont be good enough.
- Our salvation has not been earned at all by us... and that irritates us. We want to think we had some part in it. We don't want it to be all Jesus... but it is. I do not deserve salvation anymore than anyone else.... even those "really bad sinners".
- The parable leaves off without telling us if the older brother chooses to go in or not. I think Jesus did this on purpose to pose a question to the Pharisees. Will you rejoice that "sinners" are coming to the Lord?? Or will you pout outside because you think you deserve it more??
"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 15:7