Partying with lost siblings.

July 3, 2007 at 9:20 am 3 comments

Yesterday in my second edition of Monday Morning Meanderings I concluded with a quote by Henri Nouwen, and a link to the home page of the Nouwen Society, so you could have these short devotions sent directly to you.  They are excellent everyday and worth far more than the minute or two they take to read.  Along with Brennan Manning, Henri Nouwen has been my favorite author these last months of personal recovery and healing.

This morning’s offering is a continuation of several days on Jesus’ famous Story of the Lost Son.  You can go to the page to catch up but I will quote today’s here: How do we welcome home our lost brothers and sisters?  By running out to them, embracing them, and kissing them.  By clothing them with the best clothes we have and making them our honored guests.  By offering them the best food and inviting friends and family for a party.  And, most important of all, by not asking for excuses or explanations, only showing our immense joy that they are with us again. (see Luke 15:20-24)

That is being perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect.  It is forgiving from the heart without a trace of self-righteousness, recrimination or even curiosity.  The past is wiped out.  What counts is the here and now, where all that fills our hearts is gratitude for the homecoming of our brothers and sisters.

There is no doubt, I am sensitive to this kind of writing, for I was a lost son and I know many others who have been or are lost.  Lost people are not treated well by some Christians and institutional churches.  Not only do we not run to meet them and embrace them, we hold them at arms length or more likely we instruct them to not return to church, or to go somewhere else, lest their behavior contaminate or give license to others.  We are so afraid if we act graciously and life giving the lost soul will take advantage of us.  I wonder why the Father is not afraid of that happening?

Not only do we not throw parties when lost sheep (sinners) return to our Family, we are inclined to exact punishment and retribution for their failure to live up to our personal standard or the church standard.  We do want explanations, we are curious.  We want “to know what he did”  as if knowing the depth of another person’s depravity will somehow aid us in our investigation so the punishment will fit the crime. There is good reason why the Father separates Himself as “far as the east is from the west”  from our transgressions and yet we want to investigate them.  The Father’s goal is healing and full restoration while our’s is judgemental and punitive.

Not only do we not show anything approaching “immense joy” at the return of the lost, we encourage the lost to not return by requiring things of them the Father does not even require. Why do we think the plan the Father put in place for the healing and restoration of a lost lamb is unworkable in “our” situation when He designed and implemented the plan to work in every situation?

Perhaps it is because, as Nouwen puts it, we are not without a trace of self-righteousness, recrimination or curiosity.  In fact, we are full of all three and so love cannot flourish, grace is stifled, forgiveness mouthed and restoration left for others to accomplish.

Why is the story of the lost son so important for those who would follow Jesus?  Because we are fallen people, all of us.  We all fall short and we all end up in places far from where we intended or hoped to be.  The Father wants us to know, as Family members, that we all play an important role in the return and restoration of each other, for we all at one time or another need a party.


Entry filed under: Authority, Belief, Christianity, Church, Culture, Faith, Family, Friendship, Holy Spirit, Institutional church, Jesus, Revelation, The Father, Thoughts.

Monday morning meanderings. Vol. 2 What’s un-American?

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Doug Wright  |  July 3, 2007 at 7:43 pm

    Pride commeth before a fall. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. True confession and repentance should create a party, banquet and rejoicing. Forgiveness is a two way street. Both sides of a problem should be ready to forgive, party and rejoice.

  • 2. Kenan Butler  |  July 3, 2007 at 12:09 pm

    This is a great post. I agree we use others sin to cover our own, and make it less. If I have not followed the Lords will I am sorry and ask your and Linda’s forgiveness for this. I hope and pray that the Lord will continue to heal and use you to minister.

  • 3. Rachel  |  July 3, 2007 at 10:48 am

    I’ll party with you any time FB. 🙂

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