Growing up in church whenever I heard the story of the prodigal son it always seem to be told from the perspective of someone who strayed away from the Lord and then comes back. I don’t know how many parents I have heard hold onto that story as hope for their children who grew up in church and then left it. Now the Parable Jesus told that we title “The Prodigal Son” is one of my favorite parables. I could probably speak a different message from this parable for a whole year. The beauty of the Parables of Jesus is that they don’t have only one meaning but many depending on what you are conscience of and what you are able to see. So here goes another perspective.
The story is found in Luke 15:11-32
It starts with “A man had two sons “. We begin with three people, a Father and two brothers one older one younger. The younger one asks the Father for what he has coming to him, his inheritance and with his inheritance in hand he goes and travels to a distant country.
Anyone familiar with the Old Testament should recognize immediately the motif here. Abraham left home to search for God, Jacob left home in search of God, Joseph leaves home in search of God, Moses leaves home in search of God. Jesus left home and went into the wilderness to be tested by God, Paul leaves home for Arabia to discover God. The idea of leaving home goes all the way back to Adam who is sent out of the garden of Eden to discover……….
When you leave home you are leaving what you “know” or think you know to go to the unknown.
Whenever someone goes in search of God he is headed to the unknown.
By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. Heb.11:8
The story continues by describing the living style of this younger son as simply foolish and wasteful. After this wasteful living a famine strikes and this young son finds himself so hungry that he begins to crave the waste food given to the pigs but no one would even give him that.
The next statement is the big one here – the scriptures say “ When he came to his senses” The Greek word here is ἑαυτοῦ “heautou” and it means “himself” HE CAME TO HIMSELF who he really is and always was.
Self discovery is not about discovering yourself apart from the whole but discovering that you are part of the whole and always have been.
Wither it be Abraham, Moses and even Jesus each one when they leave home they return with a knowledge of God yes, but that knowledge is one with the knowledge of who they really are. After Jesus Baptism and wilderness testing he returns home and enters the synagog and reads Isaiah’s description of the Messiah and Jesus says “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (Lk.4:21). To leave home, go to an unknown place and return home is the story of all those who seek God’s kingdom, who seek the reality of what is.
Back to the story – He comes to himself and says “’How many of my father’s hired hands have more than enough food, and here I am dying of hunger! I’ll get up, go to my father, and say to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight. I’m no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired hands.’So he got up and went to his father.” This son sees for the first time the love of his Father – He always had know the facts of what his Father did but he hand not known the reality of the wholeness that he had with his Father. When stripped of everything he was able to see what things really were and how his Father had been a vital part of his life that he could not longer deny or be without.
So the younger son begins his return home, the same person but no longer foolish and wasteful but one who has gained understanding about himself his Father and the wholeness of life. He left a young boy but was retuning a mature man.
It was not only the son who could no longer live without the Father but the Father also did not relish life without his Son. As this younger Son is still finding his way back the Father runs to meet him and it says he was filled with compassion this is the experience of complete empathy where you feel what the other feels and like magnets you are drawn together to form the whole that is so needed in that moment.
The younger son realizes he is not worthy or equal to his Father.
You see Oneness is not about equality its about unity, wholeness, community.
From the smallest to the greatest everything and everyone is needed and wanted. Nothing is left out, nothing is wasted everything has a purpose and need.
Of Jesus it is said: “who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name,” Phil.2:6,8,9
The response of the Father to his younger son was “this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ So they began to celebrate. The comparison of the Prodigal to Jesus is too rich, Here is a story of revelation, growth, wholeness and love. This from a man who left everything he knew only to discover the riches he had always had but never realized. In order to know the glories of light you must experience the depth of darkness all of it is needed and for your own good. God did not cast Adam out of Eden as a punishment he did it so Adam could discover what he needed to see and understand and then return to the wholeness that is. The choice to walk down the path of good and evil is a choice to walk down the path of what is good and worthy what is bad and waste.
Back to the story, Now the older brother over these years had been working even slaving away for his Father. Sacrificing his fun to do work for his Father, he never disobeyed any of his Fathers laws. He was the most righteous of all men. He was returning from work when he heard a celebration of music and dancing so he asks one of the servants what was happening and was told that his younger brother had returned and his Father had slaughtered the best cow he had for a feast. At this the older brother became enraged and would not be a part of the celebration.
Ego is a powerful creation of man’s fleshly mind. Ego creates an understanding of the way things are and should be. When things are not as they should be Ego raises its head, and with a hissing sound declares itself to be Lord and judge of what is happening. Ego considers itself to be equal with God to be equal with Life itself. You see Life is God’s creation and the Ego is man’s creation. Life display’s what is and Ego redefines what it wants it to be and declares what it should be and shouldn’t be with no regard for what actually is.
Back to the story – Just as the Father had gone to meet his younger son the Father goes to meet his elder son. The scripture says he” pleaded with him” but instead of the elder son coming to his scenes or coming to “himself” he lets his Ego speak and the Ego lays out what is ‘Look, I have been slaving many years for you, and I have never disobeyed your orders, yet you never gave me a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your assets with prostitutes, you slaughtered the fattened calf for him.’
Ego does not operate in the world of wholeness it has no place or purpose for darkness that Life has. Life does not look at the assets wasted on prostitutes but as a necessary event of the less honorable. And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect those parts that should not be seen 1Cor.12:23
In the world of the Ego there is much waste and much that is unwanted. Equality not unity is what the Ego desires. Sacrifice not love is Ego’s action. Law is Ego’s way not Life – Law is what you follow and as long as you don’t break it you are good. The Law declares that home is the place you are to be so you could never leave it like the younger son did. The Ego earns everything it has where life accepts everything it is given. In wholeness and unity its not about earning its about living life together realizing that each part is important and needed and when one is lost or hurt we all suffer and when one is found we all celebrate. If life where about earning then the bigger and stronger parts could get more than they even need leaving the smaller, weaker parts of the whole without and in fear of death. If the weaker parts die off then what would happen to the whole?
Back to the story – The Father then replies to his elder son “ ‘Son,’he said to him, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ ”
The Ego is incapable of accepting something undeserved in its own estimation. The reality of love and wholeness is not able to be seen in the world of good and evil, black and white, God and Satan – the world of the Ego.
Life sees purpose in everything
the Ego only sees purpose in good, white and God. The Ego is separated from life itself because it dissects life and takes the parts it wants and leaves the parts it does not deem worthy. The Ego comes up to you and says I like your hair, your eyes, your chin, your waistline and your feet but the rest needs to go and walla you are a clump of hair with eyes,chin, waist and feet dead on the ground because although Ego, with its lack of wisdom and understanding did not like the other parts they were necessary to sustain your life here on earth.
You see in the parable of the prodigal son the elder brother is left outside the party not because he is bad but because Ego will never be at the party. The Ego, your minds creation is what has to die in order for you to come to yourself and be who you always have been but were not allowed by Ego’s orders. Ego calls you a sinner and undeserving of your Father’s love. But the Life of your Father within you sees you as the needed part you are. He does not think as Ego does in division and unworthy waste. In Life all is needed all have a part.
Men with Ego’s have titled this story the “Prodigal Son” even though Jesus only called him the younger brother. Ego’s will attack what it deems unworthy and unnecessary. Are you willing to walk down the path of unworthiness? The Prodigal Son left home and discovered who he was and what the meaning of Life is. Are you willing to be a Prodigal Son to the Ego’s of the world and a younger brother to Christ?
What is a “Naked Relationship”? It is a relationship where there is no fear of the destruction of that relationship because of something you might say, do or think. In other words it is a relationship based on unconditional love i.e. God’s love. A Naked Relationship with another human being is impossible without God. The very foundation of a naked relationship is the triune nature of it, Adam-Eve-God. The denial of any aspect of our being is a denial of our very being.
The vast majority of human relationships are mental and materially based. They are mental because they incorporate your belief systems, what you like or dislike, what you judge to be good and evil. They are material because they are based on physical connections such as a brother or sister, Mother or Father.
In order to move beyond materially based relationships we must begin to know ourselves. There can be no knowing of ourselves without knowing God who is the source of all life.
Knowing God is not knowing an image of Him but to know Him as He is right here and now. To often we look to past expressions or images of God and miss what God is right here and now. Paul talked about this very thing when he wrote: From now on, then, we do not know anyone in a purely human way. Even if we have known Christ in a purely human way, yet now we no longer know Him like that. Therefore if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come. 2Cor.5:16-17 (HCSB)
It is often man’s way to judge things according to their belief systems instead of what is. Jesus pointed this out in his parable about the good Samaritan. He asks the question: “Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” “The one who showed mercy to him,” he said. Lk. 10:36-37 (HCSB)
It was the Jews who pre-judged the Samaritan as a sinner because of their understanding of God’s laws. Their belief system kept them from seeing what was true in the here and now. Jesus was trying to open their eyes to what was through his story.
Almost of all Jesus parables do this exact thing – remove you from your belief system and place you in the here and now to see love.
We will choose our belief system over love in other words we will choose our image of God over God Himself.
This exact fact was demonstrated in the life of Jesus on earth. It was the Jews who choose their understanding of the Laws of Moses over the Life of love Jesus lived before them. If we are ever able to live naked and unashamed we must not be ones who hold on too tight to our understandings of God, doctrines and belief’s. As the scriptures say: Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; think about Him in all your ways,
and He will guide you on the right paths. Prov.3:5
There is a difference between relying on your own understanding and meditating on the Lord as you walk daily in your life. One comes from a remembering of the past the other is found within us in the moment of need. One from Law the other from the Spirit of Love.
A Belief system is like clothing we put on. We think it looks good? We trick ourselves into believing that it defines us. Two Christians meet and often one of the first conversations might go like this: “Where do you go to church? I go to First Baptist, Oh your Baptist I am a Methodist.” What does that do except bring about separation. No one is a Baptist or Methodist – at best these are words to describe a belief system you adhere to or at least try to appear that you adhere to. We do this because we don’t think Christ is enough. For a church or a people to say I am of Christ is not good enough. For someone to show love is not good enough, I need to know what you say you believe. I need to know that you cloth yourself with the same rags I use (Isa.64:6).
Paul wrote in the very first letter of the NT: There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Gal.3:28 (HCSB)
In Genesis we find recorded: This is why a man leaves his father and mother and bonds with his wife, and they become one flesh. Both the man and his wife were naked, yet felt no shame. Gen.2:24-25 (HCSB)
When there is only one there is no shame to be just as you are, no need to add anything. It is to look through the material world and see what is. What is? An eternal spirit manifested in many forms but still only one spirit. This is how two are one and how Christ brought about peace. In doing away with the law (the belief system) the Jews would be able to love the Samaritan and see them as they are, children of God just like the Jews. No longer to be judged according to the fleshly laws, (there clothing) but to be accepted just as they are.
For He is our peace, who made both groups one and tore down the dividing wall of hostility. In His flesh, He did away with the law of the commandments in regulations, so that He might create in Himself one new man from the two, resulting in peace. [He did this so] that He might reconcile both to God in one body through the cross and put the hostility to death by it. Eph.2:14-16 (HCSB)
How many laws or belief’s of yours to you put on others?
Do you accept people who don’t believe like you?
Do you allow others to explore in ways you don’t think is right and proper?
Can people tell you things without fear of you judging them?
The other day a sister shared with me in private a book she was reading. She shared it in private because she knew that if some of her friends found out that they would judge her.
It was the Pharisees named Nicodemus that came to Jesus at Night (Jn.3:1-21) so that none of the other Pharisees would know.
Can you be Naked with the group of Christians you meet with?
Or, Like Nicodemus, do you seek out and explore Christ in the middle of the night where none of your friends can see you?
Nicodemus was not wrong, he was seeking truth. He knew that if he did it in the open he would be persecuted by those who claimed to love God and follow his ways.
Do the people you gather together with unconditionally love you i.e. love you with God’s love? Or do they like you because they think you are like them in your belief system, your clothing?
Its a little odd that in today’s Christian Church in order to be considered a member you must agree on certain beliefs, that Christ’s acceptance of you and your expressed love for Him is not enough.
Do you have “Naked Relationships?” if you don’t you will never know intimacy or experience the joy of oneness.
The first step is to follow the words of Jesus when he said “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” Lk.6:37 (HCSB)
Are Christians like Jesus or the Religious Jews?
Then the elders and pastors brought a woman caught in adultery, making her stand in the center. “Teacher,” they said to Him, “this woman was caught in the act of committing adultery. The Bible says: (Matt.5:27-29 “You have heard that it was said, Do not commit adultery. But I tell you, everyone who looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. … For it is better that you lose one of the parts of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.) So what do You say, is she going to hell?” They asked this to trap Him, in order that they might have evidence to accuse Him. Jesus stooped down and started writing on the ground with His finger. When they persisted in questioning Him, He stood up and said to them, “The one without sin among you should be the first to throw her into hell.” Then He stooped down again and continued writing on the ground. When they heard this, they left one by one, starting with the older men. Only He was left, with the woman in the center. When Jesus stood up, He said to her, ” Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, Lord,” she answered. “Neither do I condemn you,” said Jesus. “Go, and from now on do not sin any more.”Jn.8:3-11 in today’s language.
This was a woman caught in the very act of adultery, she was probably brought to crowd naked and yet Jesus accepted her as she was, he did not need to know what she believed, or if she was guilty or not – he did not judge her or condemn her he simply forgave her without her even asking.
If we cannot accept others exactly as they are do we really believe that God accepts us as we are? If we can’t accept others nakedness it means we can’t accept our own. We like Adam and Eve before find the leaves of belief’s (the knowledge of good and evil) to cloth ourselves rejecting both the message and blood of Jesus Christ.
Can you be naked, unashamed and intimate with God and all your brothers and sisters?
Do you have or want Naked Relationships?