Part 2 – A God Like Them, Or…
Continued from yesterday…
Jesus challenged every preconceived notion his audience had about God as quick to judge, and instead presented the divine father as infinitely (and scandalously) loving, tolerant, compassionate, and accepting.
Jesus’ story about the prodigal son then took flight on a familiar trajectory. After the father gave his inheritance to the younger son, financial recession unlike any other set in and the son’s investments collapsed. The young son, drunk on his remaining millions, then squandered the rest of his inheritance on wild living.
The great recession had also taken its toll on the job market. Good paying jobs had vanished, so in the hope of eating the scraps left behind at the local farm, the younger son took a job feeding pigs.
Drowning in guilt, insecurity, and all kinds of fear, he had nothing left to live for. It was an excellent place for him to come to his senses. He remembered his father’s generosity, and decided to return home to ask for a job.
The crowd must have sat in rapt suspense as they listened to Jesus. How would the father respond to the return of his ungrateful and backstabbing son?
What do you say to a spoiled brat who wants nothing to do with you, demands his inheritance while you are still alive, and then, when he loses everything, conveniently wants to come back home? You’d probably call your lawyer and make sure that he has no legal claim on anything else in your home, and then you throw him out.
But the son knew he had messed up. What could he tell his father to gain some kind of favor? He needed a stellar opening line, something that would both signal his change of heart and convince his dad to give him a job. He decided to tell his father that he was a true failure and he was unworthy of being a son, and promised to work hard if his father let him back on his payroll. So the son memorized his lines and set off on his journey back home.
As the son edged his way onto his father’s land, the father saw him and his heart filled with compassion. Out of instinctual love, the father ran toward his son and embraced him, kissing him before the son had a chance to say a word.
Overwhelmed by the love, the son blurted out his memorized lines about being sorry, but the words seemed irrelevant to the father, who got his son the best Armani suit, put the family heirloom ring on his finger, and put a pair of Jason of Beverly Hills shoes on his feet (or something like that). Then he called all of the A-listers from the adjacent lands (and every other list, from B to Z, because what else would love do?) together for a big celebration.
The story that Jesus told is full of shocking assertions about scandalous love. Mythological in nature, the story upended every notion people had about God. Their minds had created a god predicated on their fears and shame. But the originator—the source of life—was something much grander: the father’s essence is love, and that love is oneness between the source and its creation.
To be continued tomorrow…
Adapted from Section 1 of Awakening To I Am Love by David Youngren
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