The story of the prodigal son is one that is well known in the church as well as out. It is a story of great redemption. A story of humility. A story about a son.
Yet it is also a story about a father. The father often gets lost in the wild living of his youngest son. The focus tends to lean toward the boy who left with his inheritance only to return home having squandered it all. But what about the father?
So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long distance away, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him.
Luke 15:20 (NLT)
If you were the kid who took your parents money, spent it on drugs, alcohol, and prostitutes, how welcoming would your father be to you if you came crawling back home? As important as the humility of the son is, I believe the grace of the father is not as, if not more, important.
When the older son is found sulking about the warm welcome his rebellious brother received, his father said to him, “Look, dear son, you and I are very close, and everything I have is yours. We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!” The father didn’t pontificate on the merits of remaining at home or the importance of money management. The father runs toward his lost son. The son who was more than likely dirty and smelly and sick.
If we have squandered our gifts, we should be humble like the son, but if we have more to give, we should be gracious like the father. Instead of looking down our noses, we should run to greet the lowly with a cloak and shoes. It isn’t our business how they arrived at their place of humility, our business as the Church is to welcome them, clothe them, and feed them.
For as often as this story is told in churches around the world, what the world still needs most is what the church often seems to lack—both humility and grace.
Daily Bible reading: 1 Samuel 19-21, Luke 15:11-32