Sometimes I’m tempted to tell them, “Go home.”
Our local church sees plenty of visitors each week: some never come back, others stay a while, and a few adopt our community as their community. What troubles me is the large percentage of prodigals I meet. Not prodigals in the obvious sense--the “sinners” returning to the Heavenly Father after a few years of raising hell. Those prodigals I would welcome with feasting, robes and a ring.
In my years as a pastor I’ve learned to recognize another kind of prodigal: the Christian prodigal. The Christian prodigal loves Jesus but lives far from home. He has taken the family inheritance and squandered it on travels in Christendom. He has left his family in search of something else. He lives as if his family is dead.
North American Evangelicals share a passion for the new birth, and why not? It comes directly from the words of Jesus, “You must be born again.” Yet so many children of God live the rest of their lives in Christ as if there is no such thing as a spiritual family. If we are born again, shouldn’t the metaphor extend to the nurture and maturing of each new son and daughter?
Some prodigals come to our church simply to find a quiet place to rest. Others prodigals come because they are angry with those at home, so they worship somewhere else. Still other prodigals come because they have dreams of living large in the Kingdom of God: large ministry, excitement, and a big name. They want to make their mark in God’s world. They act as if their destiny is divorced from their place of birth. They act as if the Father has a plan for them but somehow He doesn’t have a place for them. They think they must make their own way in God’s world.
Each Sunday I stand at the door and scan the horizon. I’m looking for our prodigals to come home. I’m looking to comfort and encourage the prodigals who have another home but have forgotten their inheritance.
Today’s post is still a meditation for the week:
- Am I a Christian Prodigal?
- Do I live as if I have no home in Christ?
- Have I wished my family dead and sought a far horizon on my own?
If these answers are yes, I want to tell you: “Go home.”