September 2

Prodigal Adjustments, Part 2

Luke 15:18-24 “I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.’ “…And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’”

“But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry.”

With so much traditional emphasis on the son’s decision to come home after his “wake-up call,” a great deal of understanding is lost. His decision to come home was wise, but his plan was not God’s. He wanted to admit his mistake, but there is no direct asking of forgiveness from the father. Even worse for our understanding of salvation is his end goal: to be working for his father again, but in a lowly, servant position.

How many (including us, perhaps?) have followed this line of thinking, that if we could just get back into God’s good graces, we would take a new, safe position as his worker? And this is how the younger son approaches his father—as a servant or employee.

We might be tempted to call this humility, but it is another offense against the father, who wants to be related to as a father. Happily, it’s an offense that the father quickly moves past. He has no desire to make his younger son pay for his sin by moving him from son to hired hand. On the contrary, he is received only as a son, in spite of the son’s first attempts at reinstituting the relationship. Perhaps he feels that he is “no longer worthy to be called your son,” but the father’s love and acceptance have made him worthy of it.

When we stray, we sometimes come back timidly, safely, and indirectly—as a kind of worker. God is like this father, however, and only wants us back as sons and daughters that relate to Him as Father. To let that happen, to receive the grace necessary for that—that takes true repentance and humility.

May we hear the word of the Lord to us: “Don’t be my servant. I don’t want you as an employee, no matter what you’ve done in the past. Be me son. Be my daughter. Let’s relate again.”

Prayer: Lord, You are our Father. Jesus’ prayer model to His disciples makes it clear that that is what we are to call You. Don’t let me fall into being just a servant or employee. Help me to continually receive Your Fatherhood.

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