Thursday, February 18, 2016
Take It or Leave It.
I found it somewhat surprising that a reading of I John 2:2 ("...and He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the world.) would take me to the story of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15. But, one thing learned a long time ago is that every reading of any passage of the Scripture can be new experience. No one should ever think the written Word of God is just ink on pages; instead, it is a living Word which is constantly speaking God's Word to anyone who reads with a heart and mind open to the leading of the Holy Spirit. This does not give us a license to crazy irrational thinking and interpretation, but it is simply an attempt to say the Holy Spirit often speaks in ways we are not expecting.
So, as I read the epistle, all of a sudden I found myself looking at a very familiar story through a different window. The older brother who never left home lived with the benefits of his Father's love every day, but somehow he never really understood or accepted it. So do we live with the reality of the atoning sacrifice of Jesus. We are the beneficiaries of what Christ has done for us on the cross, but at times we live as if it is ours to grasp and take instead of simply receiving what has already been given to us. On the other hand, the younger son left. He made a choice to take what he could and then leave having nothing more to do with whatever the relationship with his father might afford him. But, at the end of the day, he returned to it and lived at one again with his father instead of separated as was his older brother. The truth is the older brother had always been separated even though he had been present.
The father's attitude is consistent. What he was giving was always available. It never changed. Those sons of his could take it or leave it, but what they did or did not do did not change who he was and what he had provided for them and was giving them. The atonement, the atoning sacrifice is for the sins of everyone in this world. What we do or do not do does not change this grace granted constant of the universe.