Truth is Truth

"You, O LORD, will not withhold Your compassion from me; Your lovingkindness and Your truth will continually preserve me." - Psalm 40:11 This is a sometimes monthly column concerning the truth of Christ Jesus and the issues that face our world as published in various newspapers and journals by Pastor Dave Seaford. You can return to the home page of the church by going to:

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Location: Redway, California, United States

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Prodigals and Pharisees…

It seems that 21st Century America would rather forget, or at least dismiss, stories like the prodigal son (Luke 15), and we have long since removed any possibility in our minds of ourselves ever being Pharisaical. But that is also the story of the modern men of 2000 years ago. In the time of Jesus the personal nature of people (technologically deprived as they were), were just not that much different than the sinful nature of man today. If anything, the technology has only severed to make us more efficient at our self induced perversions and denials. While mirrors have improved throughout the ages, man has never been less able to see the truth about his own issues, bitterness and anger, than he is today. Perhaps this is because the prodigal is said to eventually “come to himself” when he finally reached bottom, and today our societal system has demanded that no one ever be allowed to reach such a state of despair. The phrase “came to himself” is actually the combination of two Greek words which literally say that this prodigal “fell into himself.” The suggestion is that he had to reach this lowest of lows before the reality and necessity of humbling solutions, long obvious to others, hits him in the face. It is given that not everyone has to reach this “lowest” place before the alternative of “humility” becomes an option. But the powerful and stark truth is that in our community and nation today we have become so proud and self deceived that the only admission of anyone ever needing to turn and go the other way concerns others.

We have been convinced by the Freudian psychologist that to think of ourselves in this “correcting” way would be unhealthy and even self defeating. The Bible however, speaks plainly and openly of this humbling brokenness as the first essential step in the solution to all sin and its self centered effects on our lives. John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ, preached “repentance” (Matt. 3:8). When Jesus’ ministry began, His very first message was one of repentance (Matt. 4:17). Here we find the immensely unpopular message that says that in order to find the healing road upward that we must begin by finding the brokenness that exclusively leads to that highest of roads. What a contradiction we find in this “one and only way” to genuine peace & confidence, spiritual & mental health, and joy beyond pre-repentant hopes.

In the economy of God anything that we strive to do in and of ourselves to advance our self worth is just us faking it again for the millionth time. This includes but is not limited to tearing down others in the futile attempt to elevate ourselves. So why do we continue to make this same mistake so consistently? Why is it that we believe that the devaluation of another human being can ever do anything to bring us higher in the eyes of other people or for that matter, in the eyes of God? This is a human mystery that while not making sense in any logical thought, remains one of the primary defenses of the human “sin-drome.” You need look no further than the older son in the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15).

While the older son has been given NO first hand knowledge in the parable concerning his younger brother’s spending his own advanced inheritance on harlots, this is exactly his accusation against the brother that the father is so happy to see repent and return home.

The father’s response to the older brother is to tell him that “it is right that we make marry” given that the brother was “lost but now is found.” But the older brother, who the father reminds “has always been with him,” will have none of this celebration for the lost one who is now saved. He criticizes, condemns and complains that the father was not paying him the attention that he thinks he deserves.

How like today’s church is this picture? How many times has this event been replayed in church history? How many older Christians in your church are so busy finding fault or bringing accusations against new Christians simply because they are given the attention the Father says is “right”? How many older Christians not only don’t find cause to celebrate the repentance and salvation of others, but indeed (like the older brother) only find fault with those they are given the commission to under gird and disciple?

Come older Christian, celebrate, it is right that we make marry!