The Shifting Perspective | LUKE 15:25-30
25 “Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27 And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ 28 But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, 29 but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’
In others words… “Seriously dad? Where is my honor? Where is my celebration? I’ve been faithful since the beginning and he gets to sneak in under the radar and receive the same blessing promised to me?” Quick side note: remember the Pharisees I spoke of in the beginning? They are represented in this story by the brother. They are the children of God who have remained faithful but are unwilling to accept their “brother,” the tax collectors and sinners who seemingly got a “get out of jail free card” from God.
Recently, Bethany and I had some couch surfers over at our house, and we began discussing belief in God. After an onslaught of challenging questions, he asked, “What about someone who lives their life their way and ‘repents’ at the end – do they get a free pass? Doesn’t that upset you?” To be honest, sometimes the idea seems a little frustrating, but the conversation does not end there.
31 And he [The Father] said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’
The father could have been upset or felt disrespected, but he shows patience, he shows grace, and he responds with a simple truth. The truth is this: the return home of a lost son is always worth celebrating, despite their previous circumstances.
Like the brother in this story, representative of the Pharisees, we often are frustrated at the salvation of those who lived with no consequence and had a deathbed conversion. Don’t believe me? I was talking with a good friend of mine about this idea, and he began talking about James Foley, a journalist and Christian, killed by the terrorist group ISIS. Can you imagine how many people would be upset if these terrorists at some point met Jesus, accepted him and went to Heaven one day? The thought of it is truthfully upsetting. But remember, even Paul, the writer of half of the New Testament, arrested and killed Christians before he met face to face with Jesus.
The terrifying and wonderful truth is that we serve a God who saves all. Even the worst man is offered redemption.
Those who have been forgiven need to know that. That means that jerk who cut you off, that officer who shot the boy in Ferguson, Missouri, or even a terrorist who finds the Lord is just as worth a salvation celebration as your mother, father, sister, or brother who find the Lord.
This salvation we have is a gift and we should NEVER – I repeat NEVER – hold on to it as if it’s something we deserve more than another. We should praise God for ALL who are saved.