Then the father said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.'” (Luke 15:31-32)
I am a pastor in the United Methodist Church. Our denomination just had a bruising, close vote on whether we would permit LGBTQ pastors and same sex weddings. The answer was no, despite a unifying plan that would have accommodated both traditional and progressive beliefs in one church. There are a lot of hurt feelings and broken relationships right now, and I am heartbroken.
We don’t usually look to the Parable of the Lost Son to spur us on to unity because it focuses on a dysfunctional family. While the sons get all the energy in bible study discussions, it is their father to whom we look – Jesus described him as so loving, so forgiving, so extravagantly generous and so gracious that there is no one outside his reach.
As disciples, we are called to emulate our king. While he was in excruciating pain, Jesus asked his Father to forgive those who were mocking him on the cross. And it is by that cross that we are reconciled to the Father. These are two profound expressions of love by our king.
God expects forgiven people to forgive and let go of the power that unforgiveness holds over us. Reconciliation is the next logical step because it focuses on restoring broken relationships. Not all relationships can be reconciled because that requires the offender(s) to be genuinely repentant and accept responsibility for that harm. This is a call to humility and truthfulness when we have wronged others.
We don’t know the ending to the Parable of the Lost Son, but therein lies our invitation. We would be nowhere if Jesus didn’t do the hard work of forgiveness and reconciliation at the cross. So, as Christians, let us honor our king.
Prayer of Response:
“Lord Jesus, Your love is extravagant and generous. Thank You for the cross and may we be reminded during this Lenten season of what it cost You to make a way for us to forgive as we have been forgiven. May Your church be willing to pursue unity in Christ and restoration of broken relationships with You and others in a spirit of humility and truth. Amen”