When sons live like hired men

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17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! 18I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ 20And he arose and came to his father.   Luke 15:17-20

Stories of lost and found

I love the stories of lost and found told by Jesus in Luke 15. In the story of lost sons, rebellion meets self-righteousness.

Once he had hit bottom the younger son came to his senses.

But instead of throwing himself on his father’s grace, he only imagined mercy. Mercy is kindness expressed in moments when we don’t get what we deserve (like punishment or shame). After having a mercy moment the younger son imagined working for his father as a hired man.

The sounds of self-righteousness

That’s self-righteousness. It sounds like this: “Ok, I messed up. But hopefully God will be merciful. From now on, I’ll be good… I promise.”

That’s not good enough. In fact its so far away from what God desires of us that Jesus had to come close to and settle once and for all the righteousness problem at the Cross. God desires that we live as His dearly loved children. To live graced. To live knowing that we could never say, “Ok God now you owe me, I’ve been good. The debt is paid. The balance for blessings is now tipped toward me!” What a terrible burden. What a gross way to live!

The sounds of grace

Instead in God’s grace we can say, “O God I was awful. I’m sorry. Help me. Restore me to you! Now I live in your grace and gifts. Once I ignored your love, neglected you, and was too interested in the your stuff rather than in you. You are magnificent and your grace is glorious. Now in your Son, Christ Jesus, my Lord, I live loved!”

When sons live like hired men they miss the party. They expect that God owes them. And when they don’t get what they want from this world and from God, its God’s fault and they are angry, bitter, enraged, jealous, and unable to rejoice in God’s grace toward others and even towards them.

Fortunately the Father intervenes on our self-righteous memes to bestow on us the blessings of being His children.

The Father’s love and grace

But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22But the father said to his servants,‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.  Luke 15:10-24

 

Self-Righteousness always exceeds our grasp of grace.

Scripture:  2 Peter 1:1-2

1Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,

To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:

2May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

Observations:

Peter builds up those receiving his letter by addressing them as equals in the faith:  they have “obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.”

He blesses them in his greeting, praying that grace and peace would be theirs through the knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord.

Application:

Peter did not treat those who came to faith after him as “seconds” in the faith.  Rather, those who came to faith in Christ after the crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus have obtained it the same way:  through the grace and peace of God abundantly poured out on them.  This faith comes not by any righteousness of their own but only through the righteousness of Jesus Christ.  So becoming an insider in the Kingdom of God comes not by being good, or by race, or by gender, or by status, or by education, or by proximity to the time and sites of Jesus’ ministry.  Rather this faith and “position” comes by God’s grace.  This righteousness in Christ demands equality.

There is level ground at the foot of the cross.  All come to Jesus by grace.  All are elevated into His kingdom through the righteousness of Jesus, not by their own “goodness. “ You can be sure, that self-righteousness always exceeds our grasp of grace.

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, I pray again with Peter.  Would you please multiply grace and peace in my life and in the life of your church through the knowledge of Jesus Christ our Saviour and Lord.  AMEN.