Our Prodigal Nation

Synopsis of:    Our Prodigal Nation

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We’re about to slice a piece of the bread of life, the Word of God. And today’s slice comes from:
The Parable of the Prodigal Son – Luke 15:21 Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.

There are today prodigal children who ended up living the words to that old blues song by Jimmy Cox: “Once I lived the life of a millionaire, Spent all my money, I just did not care, But then I began to fall so low, Lost all my good friends, I had nowhere to go, It’s mighty strange, without a doubt, Nobody knows you when you’re down and out.

But actually, there is nothing in Jesus’ parable to say that this was a bad kid when he left home. For all we know, he may have been a good son who simply was ambitious. Maybe he was much like you or me today – after all, many of us have left home with our share of goods and with dreams of making our way in the world.

I’ll bet the prodigal son’s first problem was the friends he made. It’s funny, isn’t it, how people come around to be your friends when you have some money to spend, or when you attain a position of some influence. Some people are only good at using someone else. It’s funny how many lives have been brought to ruin by so-called “friends.” His friends used him and his money for parties and prostitutes and extravagant living. Today, friends might use you to get drugs or drink, or sex.

In the end, the prodigal son was alone in the fields feeding pigs. He was so hungry, he envied the swine for the food they ate. Where were his friends? “It’s mighty strange, without a doubt; nobody knows you when you’re down and out.” He lost his anchor, his moral mooring. He lost the values he had been raised with. The text says he was in a “far country,” but he didn’t just stray from home in a geographic sense. He also strayed from himself. He became someone else, a stranger to himself.

That’s why he could keep going downhill until he landed in a pig sty. Look hard at anyone who is ruined by obsessive, compulsive behavior, and you will see people “hell-bent” on personal destruction because they hate what they have become; the prodigal son.

We can all go to our own “far country,” because it is a state of mind – a moral condition. Your far country might be selfishness and materialism. You might lose yourself in the land of instant gratification and status symbols. Maybe, the far country of spiritual pride, where once you walked humbly with God. Or slipped into the far country of apathy and resignation, where once you lived with courage and commitment, conviction, faith and grace. There are so many far countries, but ultimately, they are all in the same place – a place where we lose our right selves and our better values. What did he say?…. “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.”

But the parable Jesus told can be more than the story of prodigal children like you or me. It can also be the story of a prodigal nation, because the Bible makes it clear, in Old Testament prophets and in Jesus Himself, nations also suffer when they stray very far from the laws and love of God.

Do you think we are a prodigal nation today? Do you see any signs of a prodigal nation in our midst? By God’s Word, are there any ways in which we as a nation have lost ourselves and our values in a far-off land?

There was once a time when people all over the world looked to America for inspiration and were called “the last, best hope of humankind.” Now, they demonstrate against us by the millions. Just look at the evening news on any given night and see how many people around the world are passionately anti-American.

In Europe, millions of people who have been our “allies” now consider us an obstacle to peace. In Asia, the “huddled masses” view our military and our multi-national corporations as partners in their oppression. In the Middle East and Central America, they seethe against us in a in their revolt.

There was once a house we Americans lived in; in keeping with Jesus’ parable. It was a beautiful house, built on a foundation of values which inspired the world. Its address was on the street of righteousness. Its pillar was justice and its post was peace. Over the door was inscribed, “Let freedom ring! Yes, it was a house of promise and hope for all the world to see.

But we left that house, and now, like the prodigal son, we are lost in the far country of repression.

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