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In the story of the Prodigal Son, the father represents God the father, while the prodigal son represents those of us who have strayed away from God and come back home. It teaches us that no matter how far away we stray, God will always be there waiting for us to return. It also teaches us the relationship with God is what He longs for.

We know that the prodigal son represents a person who is already a Christian. How do we know that he represents a Christian? Ephesians 1:5 tells us that God "predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ." (NIV) Romans 8:16 says that, "The Spirit himself testifies that we are God's children." (NIV) So when we are His children, we are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ. (Romans 8:17 NIV) This lets us know that the Prodigal Son was indeed representative of a Christian--not someone who doesn't know God.

When the prodigal son went his own way, he broke off the relationship with his father. He did horrible and degrading things. He squandered his entire inheritance. At his lowest point, he ate the food of what was considered one of the most unclean animals. He realized that even the servants (not sons) of his father lived better than he was living. He was so ashamed and distant, he was willing to trade his son-status for that of a servant. He just wanted to be back in the presence of his father, even if that meant he didn't have a relationship with him anymore. He never thought he would be worthy to continue being his father's son or be in relationship with him. He had just done too many horrible things.

At what point did he stop being a son? He never did. He always remained a son. What he lost was relationship. Upon his return to his father, he was greeted with compassion, hugs, kisses, and a feast. He was immediately provided a robe (the father's protection), a ring (the father's authority), and sandals (the ability to go and do the father's work). He never stopped being a son, and he re-gained the relationship when he was able to humble himself and turn away from the pigsty.

So how does this look to us in the 21st Century?

It's the same picture. We fall away, we do degrading horrible things. We sin. We have sex outside of marriage. We drink. We do drugs. We're selfish. We're arrogant and narcissistic. But we never stop being sons or daughters. However, we are out of relationship with the Father. God deeply desires the relationship with his sons and daughters. James 5:8 says, "Come near to God, and he will come near to you." (NIV) We are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ to the kingdom of heaven, yes, but God wants the relationship with us, too. We only have to humble ourselves and turn away from the pigsty. That's the key. The son decided to leave the pigsty. He had to leave the sin behind. He had to take action. He didn't know how it would turn out--but we do. When he returned to his father, he knew he couldn't live in both worlds. He had to leave the sin behind to be in his father's presence and to live as his son. Do we? Do we try to live in the pigsty of sin, sex, drugs, selfishness, lust, gluttony--but then turn around on a Sunday and all of a sudden be in His presence? We have to humble ourselves and leave the pigsty behind.

Special Thanks to Greg Jenks for co-writing this one with me.


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