Jesus told a story about a wealthy man who had two boys.
The youngest son decided he did not want to wait until daddy died to have his share of the fortune. He demanded his inheritance; he wanted it, and he wanted it now! His father grants him his request and the young man walks away with one-third of his father’s wealth; leaving older brother and papa at home to do all the work. He then goes off living a life of parties, prostitutes and perversion.
Known as the story of the Prodigal Son, the narrative, like most Bible stories, is a physical example of spiritual truths.
Regardless of his lifestyle, the Prodigal Son is not a heathen. The father in the story is a picture of our Heavenly Father. Therefore the prodigal is a picture of a son, a wayward son, but a son nonetheless. Even when he runs away from home, he never ceases being a son.
The Prodigal’s story is a physical example of how a child of God can lose fellowship with The Father. The story is found in Luke 15:11-24.
It begins with him being obstinate — it was his way or else — demanding everything be done his way without any consideration of the thoughts and feelings of others (Luke 15:12).
Many Christians are obstinate and never realize it. They hide behind the belief that they are right or deserve some special privileges. Many a church have lost their love for one another because of decisions that split the congregation. Important things like the color of the carpet, or who should be the one to make the cookies for VBS. Actually, it is not the decisions that split the church — it is the condition of the people’s hearts throughout the decision-making process. When people start demanding, “It’s my way or the highway!” The first step – obstinance has set in.
Verse 13 has three more of the prodigal’s steps away from God.
Like a small child unwilling to share any toys, he gathers everything he desires out of the toy box and will not let anyone else play with anything and removes himself from the group; the prodigal gathers all his stuff and leaves. Here we have selfishness and separation.
When a Christian gets selfish, he no longer considers what God wants, or what anyone else wants either. At this point, our world revolves around us and we begin to separate ourselves from others – especially our Heavenly Father. Prayer vanishes, Bible reading is nonexistent, and church attendance wanes until it is forgotten.
The fourth step away from God in verse 13 is “riotous living.” Without the risk of reading too much into this, we can conclude, booze, women, drugs and plenty of food was the daily routine. His goal in life became to be entertained by the tantalizing of the senses.
So far, everything is going the way the prodigal desired. He has his money, and he is spending it his way. Not a care in the world, then the bottom falls out. As soon as the money is gone, a famine hits. Now instead of having his every desire; he is in want.
Spiritually it works the same way. “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want” (Psalm 23:1). Think of this verse in the negative – The Lord is not my shepherd; I shall be in want. The further we get away from God the more spiritually we will need. The sad thing is, the prodigal realizes he is miserable, but he will not look toward his father for the answer. This need is step five – spiritual emptiness.
To eat, he takes a job feeding pigs. His religion tells him not to have anything to do with swine, but he ends up working on a hog farm. He has gone to the point where those that know him would say, “Prodigal? No way! He would never take a job feeding pigs.” A Christian can slip so far from God he will end up doing things no one would have ever expected. Does anyone ever expect the Preacher to run off with the church secretary? Step six is dropping lower than you ever thought you would go.
Step seven is the lowest he goes. He not only feeds the pigs, but he also begins to eat the food he was bringing the hogs. Prodigal is spiritually starved. There is no longer any resemblance to his daddy. Christians can fall so deeply into sin; so far away from God, that there is no resemblance between them and their Heavenly Father.
The story does not end there; Prodigal does go back home. The steps to reconciliation I will write about next week.
Preacher Johnson is pastor of Countryside Baptist Church in Parke County Indiana. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Website: www.preacherjohnson.com. E-book: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00TUJTV2A If you email, inform me where you have seen Preacher’s Point. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.