Friday, December 19, 2008
Is Love Enough?
I have finished a book this last week that has impacted me. The Prodigal God by Timothy Keller is a revealing book not just of the story of the prodigal son, but also of the older brother. Each brother in his own way was rebelling against their father.
I have always found people who are in outright rebellion to God much easier to speak to about God. Those who believe they are following all the rules and doing it correctly are very difficult to talk to about God; they think they have all the answers, the formulas. Those in open rebellion know they are failing, and falling, they just haven’t “come to their senses” yet.
I found as I read this book it striped away religious belief, and cultural pressures, to reveal the utter simplicity of the gospel. One son openly rebelled against the times and what was expected of him and walked away, the other stayed, followed his perception of what was expected of him, all the while for his own reasons. The statement that struck me was this:
“Underneath the brother’s sharply different patterns of behavior is the same motivation and aim. Both are using the father in different ways to get the things on which their hearts are really fixed. It was the wealth, not the love of the father, that they believed would make them happy and fulfilled.
At the end of the story, the elder brother has an opportunity to truly delight the father by going into the feast. But his resentful refusal shows that the father’s happiness had never been his goal. When the father reinstates the younger son, to the diminishment of the older son’s share in the estate, the older brother’s heart is laid bare. He does everything he can to hurt and resist his father.”
I love the teachings of Jesus. They are so simple that I know I miss so much so often. This book reminded me of the simplicity of the gospel. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might……………..Love the Lord your God.
Love God, not for what He gives you or does for you
Love God, not because you’re told to
Love God, not out of fear
Love God, not out of obligation
Love God, with abandonment of all things
Love God, above all others
Is loving God my ultimate goal without agenda or motive? Serenity wrote last week about loving irresponsibly and it made me think of this passage from the book. Keller shares that “the word “prodigal” does not mean “wayward”, but according to Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, “recklessly spendthrift.” It means to spend until you have nothing left. This term is therefore as appropriate for describing the father in the story as his younger son. The father’s welcome to the repentant son was literally reckless, because he refused to “reckon” or count his sin against him or demand repayment. This response offended the elder son and most likely the local community.”
He goes on to relate that through Jesus, God did that, spent recklessly, to redeem us.
At this point I think of the great hymn:
Such wonderous love!
Such wonderous love!
That God should love a sinner such as I! How wonderful is love like this!
Christmas is coming, the celebration of the greatest expenditure of a spendthrift God who paid it all that I might know how much He loves me. Merry, Merry Christmas! God Loves You!