Are you Missing the Party?
Sunday, Pastor Paul Nix took us into the familiar story of the Prodigal son to look at the less familiar details regarding the Elder Brother. It is human nature to sympathize with the prodigal son, because every one of us has been there. Romans 3 reminds us that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We have all been the younger son.
What's less familiar, however, is the danger surrounding the older son. Far too often, those who are believers are saved from the reality of the prodigal younger son only to transform over time into the judgmental older son. We gladly embrace the grace of God for ourselves, but we struggle to offer that same grace to others, particularly if they are people who have hurt us or let us down. So it's humbling to realize that when the party started, it was the Elder Brother and not the Prodigal son who missed the celebration. This was the theme of Pastor Paul's message. And this got me thinking; "Who would keep me from the party?" Or let me ask that differently:
Do you still want to be part of God's kingdom if he's throwing the party for your enemies?
Now I know, enemy is kind of a strong word- so let me tone it down a bit with some examples. Would you go to a redemption party God was throwing for the neighbor you don't like? What about your annoying co-worker? Would you go to a redemption party for your ex-spouse who left you? What about someone who cheated or took advantage of you? Would you celebrate the redemption of a person who hurt you, or who hurt someone you love?
God's grace and mercy are freely available to anyone, which means one day you may be invited to celebrate the life change of someone you are still trying to forgive. I wonder how often those of us who have experienced a redemption party of our own find ourselves outside the party refusing to go in because of who is being celebrated. But keep in mind when you do this- you're the only one missing the party. This is what pride, anger and legalism can do to us. Tim Keller, in his book Prodigal God sums it up this way:
“The elder brother is not losing the father’s love in spite of his goodness, but because of it. It is not his sins that create the barrier between him and his father, it’s the pride he has in his moral record; it’s not his wrongdoing but his righteousness that is keeping him from sharing in the feast of the father.”
― Timothy Keller, (The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith)
All of heaven throws a party every time someone comes into God's kingdom. Are you missing it? Don't let un-forgiveness or bitterness in your life keep you standing outside while the celebration is going on.