The prodigal son – a story well told, shared down through the ages from the time when Jesus first started to build his outline. It was then that Luke tells us the tax collectors and sinners gathered to hear Him speak. The Pharisee’s stood at a safe distance only to mock and criticize. Just far enough away to keep themselves from being infected by this Nazarene message, that continued to cause seismic shifts in their own self-righteousness, His words would show the cracks in their neatly packaged religion.
“There was a man who had two sons”, He continues in verse thirteen, “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there, squandered his wealth on wild living.”
If I’ve learnt anything in my time it’s this, church (being a community of likeminded people, reaching for God while sharing our own individual journey) is a place, where we come together to rejoice, to grow, to heal. It’s a home.
Similarly, ‘distant lands’ are also places we sometimes venture and this is the cautionary tale. So, it’s all about geography and thus I am lead to often inquire of myself, where am I? This is a question of purpose, direction, a spiritual ‘health check’.
For our younger son, these questions only occur to him at the bottom end of a very long fall. Though, grace often becomes the better-late-than-never alternative that leads us home when we’ve lost our way.
You know the story, the bible says that ‘he comes to himself’ and awakens, his reality has bitten and he begins to repent, turning around he starts finding home. This cautionary tale is Jesus reminding us that there is a thief, and your destiny is his to steal, when we expose ourselves to the dangers lurking outside.
Conversely the prodigal reminds us of three vital truths;
Church is a safe place
Church is where I belong
Church is where my family is
The prodigal rediscovers that he is a son, not a servant. It’s outside that we lose ourselves, our security, or values, our identity.
Escaping his mistakes, he begins to find home.