The parable of the prodigal son should be renamed something closer to the title of this piece. Kenneth Bailey, long time Christian theologian living in the Middle East, makes the following statement in his seminal book Jacob and the Prodigal:
For JESUS, sin is desiring the death of GOD and desiring to take [your] gifts without reference to the giver.
This truth hit me right between the eyes this weekend. I, as a sinner, am like the younger son asking for his inheritance before the rightful owner is deceased. I want GOD to bless me right now for any small thing I might actually or accidentally do correctly. I want my reward NOW.
1. Me: "I just gave some money to a beggar so I should get a raise soon."
2. Random Mormon: "I pay my tithing, so when do I get to retire?"
3. Today's college graduates: "Why is my starting salary so low, I have a college degree!"
4. Random Return Missionary; "I worked hard for 2 years in Tucson, when do I meet my future bride?'
5. Today's High School Students: "Why is my high school diploma basically worthless? I only missed 77 days of school in four years!?"
The better attitude for each of the above examples would be:
1. "God, please give that suffering person, a life as great as mine. I am have no idea how I ended up being wealthier than 95 percent of the people on this planet, but I know it was not because of any personal righteousness."
2. "What if I just gave this huge sum of money directly to the poor instead of a corporate church?"
3. "Why did I just waste 5 years of my life only to get into debt just so I get a degree that will likely not ever be related to any job I get?"
4. "There were hundreds of harder places to go than Tucson, but I am still not sure why the Apostles are not out delivering the good news like they did in the New Testament."
5. "I am lucky to have this diploma, which is better than not having one, and I better show up for work on time or I will be a homeless high school graduate."
Let us stop wishing for blessings for our supposed good works, and focus on having a relationship with JESUS and His Father.
They are not dead, and we will never be out of their debt. We owe GOD the Most High for the first atonement made in all the worlds ever created. We now owe JESUS for the most recent atonement that can save all of us from death and hell.