Slaving for God

We all know the Parable of the Lost Son. The rich kid gets money from his dad, runs off living it up, then when he runs out of money he hires himself out to make ends meet. He is so hungry that he is tempted to eat the slop he is feeding to the pigs. The text says that he wants to, not that he does so clearly things are so bad he is either afraid of being punished if he is caught eating food for the pigs or just that he so cannot afford to lose his job that he is willing to starve himself. Either way this is a bad situation.

So, fast forward and we know that he heads for home to beg for forgiveness. His father welcomes him with grace (not at all like God will do with us since our conservative dogma teaches us that God will scold us for squandering our gifts and then throw us into a fiery hell. But, I digress, that is another post) and has a party thrown in honor of his son’s return. When the older brother hears what is going on, he has a bit of a tantrum. The father comes out to calm him down and the older son utters this great line, “All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to.”

Have you ever wondered how the younger son would have reacted to overhearing this conversation? Maybe, “Gee, I certainly don’t deserve much here, but I could teach you a lot about what ‘slaving’ means, bro.” Or, “Wow, you look pretty good for ‘slaving’ all these years. I mean, I can’t even see any of your ribs. Here, check this out, you can see all of mine.”

So often in church we, God’s children, are compared to the younger son. Return to your father in heaven and he will accept you. Much more often, though, I think we are more like the older son: Wait, God can’t take him, he’s rich and greedy, she’s Muslim, they’re gay! Here we are, slaving away for God and the kingdom. We’re carrying our cross in a fanny pack everywhere we go and they think they can just waltz into God’s favor?

They don’t deserve it!

The next time you think that someone isn’t worth of God’s favor you should remind yourself that it is not our favor to dispense and God has plenty to go around.

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