We had such a small class Sunday that we nearly cancelled it. But since we were there anyway, we went ahead. We looked at a couple more parables from new perspectives. First it was the prodigal son, where the idea was to look at it from both the older and the prodigal sons’ eyes. Then we also looked at the father’s perspective. Our first observation was that when presented the story, most young people can easily relate to the feelings of one or the other. One of us had kids who could easily have acted the whole thing out. One was always in trouble and the other felt ignored, because they usually acted responsibly. In that sense, it could be a cautionary tale for parents, I suppose. Just because your kid is doing the right thing, it does not necessarily follow that all is well. There may be all sorts of emotion under the surface causing problems.
Then we moved on the discussing the father. First was some talk of how loving and forgiving he was. We observed that neither child seemed to really get that. That may be common among our kids as well. How often do they think we will just kill them if they put a dent in the car, for instance? In reality we would be more concerned that they are okay, but they may or may not get that.
Our leader talked of how difficult it is when you have a child that is a prodigal. You have to walk a fine line trying to simultaneously show that you still love them, but you disapprove of their poor choices. He shared how he went through this with his oldest child for some years. She admitted later that she always knew she was loved, and it helped her to finally turn around. He was also able to share his experience with a pastor who had disowned his own daughter over some major issue. His experience helped that pastor to turn back from that unbending attitude and I guess things eventually turned around for them as well.
He shared some thoughts from his daughter after she came around, which I guess gets back to the perspective of the prodigal when they are older. Her focus was on how it all seemed to be fed by lies told to us by Satan or his minions. The lies were first, you are no good; second, God’s love is conditional; your parents’ love is conditional, and forgiveness is conditional. When she realized that she was believing lies, it was easier to turn around. That in itself was repudiating the lie that she had gone too far to turn back. I’m sure she uses that experience when parenting her own children or teaching others.
I would bet that most of us have had issues where, at least looking back, we realize we were acting on lies that we had accepted. In fact, I think God spends a good amount of time working to get us to realize that those beliefs did not originate with Him. He, in fact, loves us like that very prodigal father in the parable. His love itself was prodigal, in that it went far beyond the bounds of what was likely considered proper or acceptable in Middle Eastern society. So, when God shows you that you have been believing lies, just turn around and go home.