Monday, July 25, 2011

Hear it on Sunday. Use it on Monday.:Rejoice!

"In the same way, there is joy in the presence of God's angels when even one sinner repents."
Luke 15:7

In the fifteenth chapter of Luke, Jesus uses three different parables to give us insight into the heart of the Father concerning the lost. He tells of a sheep, a coin and a son. Each of them was lost; each of them was found, and there was great rejoicing. In the same way, Jesus tells us, there is great rejoicing in heaven when even one sinner repents.

The third parable, the one about the prodigal son, is the one that pierces my heart. We have a prodigal in our family, one who has chosen to walk away and remains silent and distant. They have left heartache and sorrow in their wake. Not a day passes that we don't miss this one and pray for a return.

However, I must make a confession here and admit that at one time I identified with that older brother. The one who resented the great celebration when his little brother finally returned home. He was angry, bitter, and jealous at all the attention given to one who had hurt their father and the rest of the family so deeply. He had been the faithful one and resented the fact that no one had ever celebrated his loyalty and love.

The father in this story gently reprimands this bitter young man:

"Look dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours. We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!"
Luke 15:31-32

Jesus doesn't tell us how the older son responded, but I imagine he felt much the way I did when I looked my own anger in the face. After years of praying and trying I began to feel a coldness in my heart toward this one - a resolve to never allow them to get close to me even if they should return. I pictured in my mind the scene of rejoicing and the feeling of resentment that had grown as I was left to deal with all the difficult circumstances they had walked away from. And I knew it was wrong.

This weekend our Pastor taught on this chapter. In speaking of the return of sinners to the Lord he said:

"When a sinner comes back rejoice, and you will be in the presence of angels."

There is no judgement or self-righteousness involved - simply rejoice. So simple, but it encompasses so much. I have been forgiven everything, how can I not forgive in return? I am loved when I am at my worst, how can I not love others?

I want to dance in the presence of angels - selflessly, lovingly - when the prodigal returns home.

I am joining Michelle today for Hear it on Sunday. Use it on Monday.