I have been thinking a lot about the Parable of the Prodigal son in Luke 15 lately. I have preached on it a number of times and am about to lead a couple of home groups on it. I am always amazed at how I come back to passages of Scripture that I have studied/ preached before, and find fresh milk.
What was my fresh milk this time?
Imagine meeting the younger brother in heaven, and you get to ask him what it was like after he was back with his father, what would he say?
-I loved wearing the robe?
-The ring on my finger made it worth it?
-I always remember the taste of the fattened calf?
No, I think the thing that would stand out to him would be his restored relationship with his father. Everything else is secondary. The biggest thing that the prodigal got was a restored relationship with the father…he could say Abba.
When we look at the older brother and his response to the fathers grace, we see a sad reflection of the Pharisees – he hated it. And so he started a rant about the fact that his father had never even given him a goat. It was all about ‘stuff’. Indeed, his younger brother had left for ‘stuff’, but the older brother had stayed and ‘slaved’ for ‘stuff’.
Think about the fathers response to him….he says that ‘he’ has always been with him. He goes out to him. The father was saying that he had the greatest blessing…Himself.
You see, the gospel is not about the ‘stuff’ (robe, ring, sandals, fattened calf) etc. Those are blessing worth celebrating, but they are not the main thing. The main thing is the Father. Restoration. Reconciliation. Relationship.
So, what has this to do with disappointment?
Well, I think we usually want the gifts more than the giver, the blessings more than the One who blesses. We can be more obsessed with the ring and robe than the reconciliation and relationship.
In effect, God is our ticket to ‘stuff’… money, family, health, wealth, happiness, etc.
It is then that we get frustrated that God doesn’t give us our every whim and feel like we have been slaving for him. RT Kendall calls this the ‘seeming betrayal of God’.
What about you?
Are you content with God…Himself? If not, why not?
Rob Parsons puts it like this:
Could it be that unwittingly we are living our lives with an unspoken belief that we have a secret deal with God. It goes something like this:
“God, I will follow you, serve and love you, but in return you will look after me. A little pain, some persecution that doesn’t get too nasty, and minor family trauma’s are accepted as part of my sanctification. But that’s it. No failing marriages, children who turn their backs on the church, illnesses that kill those I love, or redundancies that don’t ultimately lead to a more fulfilling job”.
I pray that we would love God Himself and be satisfied in Him Alone.