Far From Home
The Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-17) is one of the most recognizable parables of Jesus Christ that commonly is used to illustrate spiritual truths. For most, the story is known. It begins with the younger of two sons asking his father for the portion of his inheritance. The father concedes to his son's request to which the son uses it on riotous living. Ultimately, the funds run dry, and famine makes the necessities of life challenging to come by. The son finds himself abandoning all self-worth to work in a hog pin to make ends meet. While in the muck, he comes to himself and makes his journey home into the warm embrace of his father.
Underlying each parable are profound spiritual principles that speak to the condition of one's heart to edify by exhortation or correction. In the case of the younger son, he seeks his portion to leave his home. The son had a roof over his head, wore clothes purchased by his father, food on his table, and didn't have to work to obtain any of it. The portion that he requested wasn't a year's wages that he earned. It was an inheritance saved by his father's works. In other words, he sought the benefits of his father's sacrifice without relationship. The Father, who is the Lord and Savior (Is. 43:11), came to Earth as a child (Is. 9:6) to complete the work of redemption (John. 19:30) to save humanity from its sins (Rom. 5:8). The work of Jesus Christ on Calvary provided salvation as well as opened up the windows of heaven for the blessings and benefits of a relationship with our heavenly Father.
The behavior of the younger son is well known, but what instigated this young man to leave the comfort, provision, and safety of his father's covering. It wasn't a spontaneous action; it was a long process of deterioration in his relationship with his father that led to his decision. The Bible doesn't allude to the why, but the understanding of the heart gives us three options 1. Envy 2. Lusts, and 3. Erosion. Envy is the feeling of dissatisfaction with one's own life because of the possessions of another. In this case, it can appear to the Christian that those who do evil, gossip, cheat, and lie get ahead without consequence. The feeling of discontent can breed resentment toward the things of God, causing one to leave home. Lust speaks to the inordinate affection for the pleasures of the flesh that pull one from home. Lastly, erosion expresses the unnoticeable process of drifting away without the actions of sin being the driving force.
Erosion of one's relationship with God occurs when a believer gets caught up in the routine of going to church, the work of the ministry, and the lifestyle of a Christianity without seeking the face of God. It is a trick of the enemy to judge our relationship with Jesus based on years of service and works completed that may cover up the lack of connection. At the same time, material blessings may provide a false sense of security in that relationship. Imagine if our relationship with Jesus was solely based on the number of material benefits one receives. Those with houses and cars would be considered the apex of a relationship.
On the other hand, those taking the bus, living in an apartment, would be hopeless. Thank God this is not the case. Let us come into this understanding; a person may feel the anointing as they do the work: preach, teach, give, sing, and dance. The anointing is the temporary empowering of the Spirit of God upon a believer to perform a task. But, is the relationship anointed? His loving nature provides the benefits and blessings toward his children: houses, cars, jobs, etc. But, is the relationship anointed?
The danger of erosion is that it can go unnoticed year after year while someone is feeling the presence of God and being blessed. Additionally, if sin is not prevalent, the cracks in the relationship go undetected. It is easy to observe a dynamite explosion of sin that crumbles the rocks in the shockwave, but that ever so light consistent drip goes unnoticed among the noise of daily life. Remember, the son was in the presence of the father while he was in the house. Such a scenario is likened to a believer in the corporate presence of God yet fails to notice the absence of communion. In the case of the prodigal son, the famine was the instrument used to highlight the son’s desperate situation and drove him to its remedy.
If God can use famine to drive a man into isolation that distanced him from others feeding into his depravity, he can surely use a pandemic. For some, the pandemic has been the catalyst to drive them to their knees. They have been pushed into prayer, seeking the Father at a deeper level. This situation revealed what behaviors and habits, who, and who isn’t essential to a holy, spirit-filled life. When realized and senses illuminated, we begin to make our way out of the hog pin and to the Father’s embrace.