One of Christ’s most famous parables is that of the prodigal son. It could also be called the parable of the self-righteous brother, or the parable of the longing father. What it teaches us about God the Father is quite remarkable, and to a certain kind of religious mind and heart, also quite scandalous.
Once there was a man with two disobedient sons. One of them was honest enough to go off and spend his inheritance on whores, while the other remained, working diligently in the fields for all the wrong reasons. The two sons are distinguished by this—the scoundrel son received a gift in order to abuse it. The other son was incapable of receiving a gift. The parable is explicit that the father divided the inheritance between the brothers at the beginning of the story, but the older brother later complained that he had received nothing. And he had received nothing—he was incapable of it.
Are you like the younger son? If you are, then you are an abuser of grace. You are a waster. Let us not sugarcoat it—you are a loser. The good news is that this is the Table that is set for you. God welcomes you to it. The fatted calf has been killed for you. You are a loser, and yet the ring has been put on your finger, and a robe has been called for. God the Father has hired a band.
But the grace of God goes still deeper than that. Are you a stuffed shirt Pharisee? Are you a fusser? An ethical, moralistic whiner? Are you the kind of person who has no friends, and cannot recognize the grace of your Father? This just makes you a different kind of loser than your younger brother. So stop standing there in the driveway, sullenly listening to the music and dancing.
As we repent, this Table is for both kinds of losers.