“Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!” – Luke 15:30 (NLT)
I’ll bet your eyebrows raised a bit when you saw todays Freedom Fighter title, but there is a lot of truth in it. Now, out there in Secularland, the rules are different when it comes to obedience. It seems that obedience takes on a whole different truth, as to say what was true yesterday has now become today’s lie. So even in the world of public opinion, what ‘once was’ is now a ‘should have never been.’ Displaying obedience in Secularland is constantly changing, but for the Christian it should be a one-way street…but is it really?
When we look at Luke 1:26-38, a young woman in an insignificant part of Palestine had been chosen by a mighty God to bear His Son. An Archangel is sent to deliver the message, and there isn’t much of an argument on her part as she tells the Archangel Gabriel, “Behold the bond slave of the Lord; be it done to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38) In this case, Mary’s obedience is so instant that it makes Jell-O instant pudding look like a slow poke. But we have other times in the Bible where the practice of obedience took on that of a performance rather than the putting on of humility. Actually, we can say that performance of obedience was a more of a shunned humility rather than the instant kind that Mary chose to exhibit. Let’s go to Luke 15:25-32…
This is the passage about the elder brother coming in from the fields, who heard a party and got angry. Being an eldest myself (though I surrendered that position when I fell into a world of addiction), I guess I could see the reckoning of it. After all, you’ve been doing as you are expected (or, as some translations say, “commanded”), and you see a younger sibling getting loved on just because he makes it back from the hell he puts himself through…all at the expense of your father, and it just ain’t right. But the kicker here is your father, in whom you’ve obeyed, has made yet another concession to someone who you feel deserves a party held at the back of wood shed, not in the family living room. It all starts with a fattened calf and then the heart condition unravels.
Entitlement. This is a word that has been used a lot these days, but in this sense the elder brother has been doing what he should and therefore should get what he, actually, rightfully deserves. Well, the thing here is that you can follow the rules to the letter and still be in sin just like the rest of us prodigals. Why? Because your performance of obedience is perverted by your heart’s desire for reward for doing so, meaning you’re only in it for yourself – the whole reason I think I’ve fared better as a prodigal. What makes me say that?
Grace!! You can’t earn God’s grace, and I’ll go a step further and say that it isn’t a random thing He provides. God may have His reasons, and they may include what good you do, but you have to understand that grace doesn’t happen by earning it or meriting His favor. This way, you can’t take pride in what you are doing out of obedience, because the consequence for all that is this: God is going to just let you keep on thinking that it’s all true, and when that fattened calf is killed to celebrate someone else, all your performance of obedience has gotten you is a session of huffin’-n-puffin’ with whimpers of “it’s unfair”.
Now, we all need to be aware of shunned humility because the bottom line is that God opposes the proud. And we need to remember that we aren’t entitled to anything. You can have your inalienable rights all you want but are you, CHRISTIAN, really entitled to life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness? Are you entitled to the next breath you take? Are you really entitled to YOUR stuff?
Jesus didn’t finish His parable on prodigal/elder brother but I think we are to walk away with this thought: we need drop our pride and be open to receive God’s grace. We need to understand that we can’t earn it but can grow into spiritual maturity because of it. And finally, we shouldn’t cheapen the grace of God by exploiting it or by keeping score and live as if we are begun to pave our own roadway into the Throne Room so we can join the angelic chorus by singing, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!” Sometimes it’s about standing there and saying, “Behold the bondslave of the Lord; be it done to me according to your word.” Amen?
Written by Chris Hughes: Chris, a graduate of The Colony of Mercy (11-2003) is married (Kathy) with two adult children (Kevin and Karen) and has been a Freedom Fighter contributor since 2008.
Daily Quote: “As long as you live by your old nature you will be open to all of the injustices of men. Your temper will get you into fights, your passions will clash with your neighbors, your desires will be like tender spots to your enemies’ arrows.” – Fenelon
This Week’s Verse to Memorize:
Because You have been my help, Therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice. Psalm 63:7