Posted by: Rex Boyles | October 28, 2007

“Where were you … when God ran?”

On that day … at that time … when God ran, there was a broken and bruised son … a grateful and gracious father … and a resentful and self-righteous brother. Which one are you?

Where were you … when God ran? Were you walking back home with the wasted and weary son, practicing your speech – ready to make your apology? Were you running with the eager and excited father, celebrating the return of the runaway? Were you standing off with the haughty and heartless older brother, questioning (if not condemning) the life of his brother and the love of his father?

Consider the son – the one that will run away.  The first words we hear from him are “give me”. He is selfish and self-centered. Does he understand that he has no inheritance while his father lives? Is his request the same as “wishing his father was dead”? Does he have any idea how much his father will hurt – grieve – fear, once the boy gets lost and has been given up for dead? Does he care? Apparently not. I am glad that he came home … glad that the father forgave him; but I have known people just like him. They are rude, hateful, and demanding. Everyone owes them – and “no”, they don’t owe anybody anything. They are disrespectul and determined to do what they want … when they want … how they want. I have known people like that. Let me confess: I have been like that.

Consider the father, the one that ran to welcome the prodigal home. He let his son go. There is wisdom here, but there are parents, who would argue (or at least practice) otherwise. When the boy got lost … when he was given up for dead … the father did not stop looking … did not stop hoping. When the boy came home – the father saw him “afar off”. Why? Because he was out looking for him … expecting him to come home. And when he saw him, the father did not hestitate (wondering how he should act – how the son will react – or what others will think or say). His son was alive – that is all that matters. His son was home where he belonged. What else matters? I have known men and women like this father. They have felt the grief and even the guilt of the runaway, but they did not stop looking … did not stop hoping. When they see the lost ones coming home, they run to meet them. They do not make the prodigals answer for the pain they caused – make them become acceptable before they can be accepted. They run to meet them, as if they are in a hurry to forgive them – to reassure them. I have seen them run … I have felt their embrace … I have enjoyed their joyful welcome home. I have known people like that. I want to be like that.

 Consider the older brother, the one that will resent both his brother and father. To hear him tell it – he “never” did anything wrong, and his father “never” did anything good for him. The father doesn’t agrue with him, so I have to accept his claims to faithfulness and righteousness. But when his lost brother comes home – he cares more for what was lost than the brother that was found … when his dead brother returned to life, he acted as if he still considered him dead. Even his father’s example could not change his heart … even his father’s invitation could not change his behavior. He focuses on his life – rather than on his brother’s. He focuses on his wishes – rather than on his father’s. He is selfish and self-centered; and even though he never leaves – he ends up lost … even though he never wastes his money – he wastes his life. I have known people like this. They care more about their image than they do the one made in the image of God. They care more about the sin than the sinner. They care more about church’s reputation than they do the church’s obedience to the Head. I have known people like that. I have been like that.

I have run away before. Never again – help me God.

I have stood off before. Never again – help me God.

I have run with the Father to welcome sinners home. Forever – help me God.

p.s. This morning, October 28, 2007, I spoke these words (or some just like them) to a small fellowship of prodigals, who meet on 12th Street in Seagraves, Texas. They claim to be a church of Christ – they also long to be a church like Christ. They are “getting there”. By word and deed … example and expression … James and RaDonna Kinnaird invite them to join in the celebration. I thank them for their kindness toward me and thank God for them.        


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