I have many favorite bible passages, but my favorite parable in the entire New Testament is one that we are all familiar with. Pretty much anyone who has spent any time around Christians or the church has at least heard this one twice. It's that familiar. I'm going paraphrase it, I'm sure you will know the one I'm talking about within the first sentence.
(If not, check out Luke 15)
There was this really rich guy who had two sons. His younger son approached him one day and said, "Pops, I know you aren't dead yet, but let's pretend you are dead to me and go ahead and give me all my inheritance. I want all my half of what you got." The father, being a good father, obliged and let the teenager have his inheritance early to do with it as he pleased. The boy ran off and spent all the money on alcohol, drugs, sex, and the like. Basically he spent the money on filthy things that his dad probably would never have approved of. Finally, the boy found himself working for another man, doing the nasty work- feeding the pigs and cleaning up after them. He had spent all his money and had no food. He was so hungry that even the slop he fed the pigs looked delicious. The boy finally wises up and realizes that even his dad's hired slaves have it better than he does now. He decides to return home and beg his dad to take him in as a slave.
The father sees the boy from way down the road, the bible says a long way off, and the father begins to run towards his son. He is sprinting, whooping and hollering from deep wells of joy and pleasure- His son has come home!
Before the boy can even get a word out of his mouth, the father plants a big, sloppy kiss on his filthy, pig-crap covered cheek, throws a robe and ring (of authority) on him and hollers for someone to kill the prized calf for the biggest block celebration party in history.
The boy's older brother got pretty ticked off at the father because he was faithful and loyal and did everything right but never got this kind of celebration before. The father reaffirms his love for him and tells him that he's great and has access to all his brother is getting and more simply because he's a son.
And the party goes on.
This story is referenced in nearly every altar call in the church. Everyone has been one of the brothers, well, really both of them, at one point or another in their life. It's a sweet story where the boy is forgiven, but I think we sometimes miss the big picture.
The parable is known as the prodigal son. If you ask someone about it, they will tell you "oh, it's about this kid who wasted everything and then got back on track and his dad threw a party".
But if I can change the title of this parable, if I can help you see that this parable isn't at all what we have come to accept it to be, please give me that honor.
This story isn't about the son.
It's not about the filthy son.
It's not about the faithful son.
It's not about throwing really rad parties.
This story is about the Father. He is the point if the story.
The story is about the Father's goodness, not about the sons' filth or faithfulness.
Thank God! Thank God that our Father in heaven is that good Father! Thank God that when we were filthy in sin he ran down the road to plant a big, wet redeeming kiss on our cheek. Thank God that when we pout and complain that it's not fair that we have been so good while others have been so bad he lifts up our chin, and sings songs of delight and extravagant love over us and speaks to our identity as sons and daughters.
Thank God that he is good-er than we ever imagined!!!
The son thought he would beg to be a slave, but the Father surprised him big. The Father gave him the authority of his name. The son didn't have to earn the Father's trust back. He didn't have to prove himself. He didn't have to beg and plead. The Father was watching and waiting for the day that the son would carry his name, his identity, and walk in the authority that is his, simply because he is a son.
So today, where ever we are, whoever we feel we identify most with, forget it. Forget who you feel most like.
Quiet your heart and mind.
That sound is the pounding of the Father's feet coming down the dirt road to plant a big kiss on your cheek.
That's the rhythm of Him singing his pleasure over you.
He is more good than you ever wished you could imagine.
Step into your identity as a beloved son or daughter of a really, really, good, glad, kind, loving, dad. You dad is in a really good mood.