Rebels & Rule-Keepers Both Need Transformation
One day Jesus spoke to the religious elite (Luke 15). The people who were in “church” every Sabbath. The ones who kept the most definitive rules and measured others on their moral compass.
They wondered why Jesus consistently left those who thought they had it all together to befriend those whom we’re all sure don’t.
Instead of just answering the question, He told the story of a man who had two boys. One was bad, the other was “good.” The young, “bad” one actually wished his father dead. So he could get on with his life apart from the rules. Kind of like a “God doesn’t exist” thing.
The "bad" son crashed
The older one persisted in the rules. He kept it together.
Of course, everything came crashing down for the young one. It was predictable. The rate of depression, divorce, addiction, and even suicide is documented and backed by colorful charts with big numbers.
(The elitists probably cheered or at least smirked when this happened in the story.)
Jesus wasn’t done with the story, though.
A self-serving "repentance" was good enough for a good father
That poor “wretch” of a son came to his senses. It would be better to go back and be a simple servant, he thought. So that’s what he did. He’d become a statistic; now he needed redemption.
Turns out, his father was looking for him. And ran to him. And instead of stoning him as culture— and religious rules— demanded, the father didn’t even let him apologize.
No confession of faith. No verbal repentance.
There might not have been one. The young son wasn’t heading home to be a son; he headed home ONLY because he was hungry. Destitute. It was a shallow transformation, at best.
Until, the father...
He gave this son a ring of authority. And shoes. And a robe.
And a party.
Not to the exclusion of the relationship he had to the other son, the “good” one. But along with it. Turns out, they were all family.
But the "good" son wasn't so "good" after all
The story gets more interesting, however.
Apparently the older son continued working in the field— even as the party ensued. In fact, the father left the banquet to look for that soon and invite him in.
But he refused to come.
In fact, he was offended at his father because of his acceptance of the younger son (whom the older brother wouldn’t even acknowledge, at this point, as his own sibling).
Jesus told that story to religious elitists who assumed they were IN and others were OUT, and that Jesus had missed it by seeking those who had been deemed “out.”
Look at it.
Jesus called both rebels and rule-keepers to abandon their lesser identities and embrace their roles as sons & daughters of the king. When they experience the lavish love of their Father, the natural response is to overflow that connection to others.
It’s easy to believe that God won’t accept us because of our past (even recent past mistakes). Or that He owes us because we’re been “so good.”
But our connection with the Father isn’t based on performance, bad or good.
It’s based on the truth that we are— and always have been— His.
Rebels and rule-keepers alike need to recognize that you don't earn it-- never have, never will.
This video comes from Lesson 8 of “Liberty,” course 2 in the Transformation School of Ministry “Core Four.”
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