The Prodigal Son

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Posted on Sunday, March 10, 2013 by Canon Revd. Arthur Houston

The story of the prodigal son is a story about 3 people – a Father and two sons

Many years ago, there was a conference in England on comparative religion. Scholars from all over the world and from many different religious faiths were present. One of the things they discussed was what unique contribution Christianity had made. Someone suggested the incarnation; but it was pointed out that other religions had examples of gods becoming incarnate and appearing among the mortals.

Someone else suggested resurrection; but again, it can be shown that there are examples of people coming alive again in other religious traditions.

The debate went on for some time until C.S. Lewis walked into the room and asked, “What’s the rumpus about?” On hearing that his colleagues were discussing Christianity’s unique contribution, he replied, “Oh, that’s easy. It’s grace!”

Grace is at the very heart of the gospel. C.S. Lewis was right when he said that grace is Christianity’s unique contribution.

All the other religions offer a way to earn God’s approval. We see this in the Buddhist’s eight-fold path, the Hindu doctrine of karma, the Jewish idea of a law-based covenant, and the Muslim code of law. But God in Christ offers us reconciliation with the Father that does not have to be earned — in fact, can’t be earned.

If someone asks the question, “What must I do to be saved?” The most common answer given is, “Be good.” But this is not what Jesus is saying in this story. His answer is not “Be good,”, but “cry help!”

People often feel that they must first clean up their acts, and then they can come to church. But Jesus reverses this. He is saying, first come home, re-establish your relationship with the Father, and everything else will follow.

An ancient eastern proverb says, “Who draws near to me an inch, I will draw near to him a mile; and who so walks to meet me, I will leap to meet him!”

James put it this way,

“Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.” (James 4:8)

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