ON BEING LOST?
Recently, our Pastor characterized the older brother of the Prodigal as being worse off than his lost brother. It reminded me of the days of my youth. I was always a Christian and a believer; yet, I felt lost. I, too, could not make out with my father and left home three times. My need was not for being saved again, but for being merciful so that I could receive mercy from my father. It would take me a decade to learn that lesson. This was precisely the problem of the older son. He was not lost, neither were the 99 pennies or the 99 sheep (Lk.15). He, like so many Christians – myself included, found or find it difficult to forgive those that left us holding the bag and then show up as if nothing has ever happened. Forgiveness is the second most important message regarding the Prodigal. No one can be reinstated into the family without forgiveness. For that reason, the father pleaded with the older son (Ja.5: 19-20).
The Prodigal’ leaving home is a lesson for all of us that take our salvation for granted. Being born again does not mean that we can never be lost. The Prodigal left the community of faith and assumed he could make it in the ungodly world. It did not take long to discover that worldly friends lived off him and not for him. It was completely the contrary what the Prodigal had experienced back home in the family of faith. Wealth was not the most important; relationships were. No matter how wrong a child can be, it does not tarnish a father’ heart. This was and still is the first and most important lesson in the three Parables. No one but the father or the owner will make every effort to recover what is dear to him (Lk.11: 13).
The third lesson was and still is that prodigals can return, be forgiven and re-instated. He did not receive another share of the property that now belonged to his brother, and he did not ask for it. Ancient law, after the younger brother received his share, the oldest son became the sole proprietor. Legally, the father should have consulted his older son for the calf. That indicates why the older son was upset and not lost (Mt.5: 24). He, however, had to agree for a reconciliation to take place. It was a humiliating experience for the lost son to become a servant; but, at least, he was back home with the family of faith and love.