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Monday, January 16, 2017

The Prodigal Son and the Father who Loved Him

The first Sunday in January I was blessed to be able to attend church with my friend Tori. I hadn't been in a while due to my past work schedule. I figured this would be a great way to ring in the new year, and it most certainly was. The Pastor that was speaking that day focused on the idea that churches gravitate towards the letter of the law and while doing that they lose the idea and concept of grace. He began to discuss the story of the adulterer. The people were so ready to stone her to death because at that time in history that was the penalty. Christ had the opportunity to follow through with the word of the law. What did he do instead? He approached her and I imagine him going down to her level, holding her and looking her in her eyes and saying "Go thy way, and sin no more." 

Some of you who are reading this may not believe in religion, God, or Jesus. That is totally fine. I get it. But I have really had a hard time with various religious individuals, churches, and organizations so I just want to take this moment to address them. Please just bare with me and try to see where I am coming from even if you may not be religious. 
"Loving is better than being right"
Growing up in the LDS church you are taught that we love everyone. People get confused with that idea for some reason though. Loving is better then trying to be right. That is something that I think should be taught more. When people are taught that they ARE right then that is where the judging and the holier than thou way of thinking comes in. Life on earth is pointless if you are perfect. Life is a test and you should focus on your own. (unless you are trying to be loving and helpful of course)

Some of you may be familiar with the story of The Prodigal Son. It is a lesson that should be taught more even if you aren't religious. There are a lot of variables that can be taken from it. 

 The Prodigal Son

There was a wealthy family. In this family there were two sons. The youngest son asked and pleaded his father if he could receive his inheritance. After the father agreed, the son went on his way and spent his fortune and became destitute. He had nowhere to live and no shelter because he had been lavish in his spending. He decided that he would journey back home and beg his father to be brought in as a hired servant. He expected his relationship to be severed with his father. He was pleasantly surprised though. Upon his return his father greeted him with open arms. His son had been lost. They had no idea where he had traveled to and he had been so worried. Instead of bringing his son in as his servant he threw a celebration for his son! He finally had his son back and he wanted him to know how loved he was no matter what happened to the inheritance

The oldest brother was not happy though. He refused to attend the celebration because he was unhappy about what his brother had done. The father made it clear to him that as the oldest he would still inherit everything. At the moment though, they were going to throw a celebration because the lost son had returned.  

 

Often times people in the Christian realm forget this lesson. This is the most basic lesson of unconditional love. The love of a parent. It is heart breaking when parents are so thick headed that they forget the whole point of being a parent in the first place and that is to have unconditional love. Your kids wont have the same beliefs, feelings, thoughts, actions, or sexual orientation that you have 100% of the time and it is ignorant to think they will. None of those are reasons for you to lose your parental love. None of those are reasons to kick them out. Love your kids. Love the fact that they are alive. Love the fact that you can still hold them in your arms and see into their beautiful soul. You should take full advantage of the fact that they are breathing. Don't be the reason they aren't around anymore. 

Now, enough about parents. Onto the people in the church congregation. Stop calling people names. Stop throwing your stones. Stop acting like the older brother in this parable. Raise your kids to be accepting and loving of those around them. We make it so hard for people to belong. You should always be able to belong before you believe. 

At church our Pastor asked us to make two commitments. The first one: Let's always err on the side of grace while withstanding the temptation to compromise on truth. Jesus always erred on the side of grace. 

The second commitment was to always be more concerned with who we are reaching then who we are keeping. Like I said before, we all deserve to belong before we ever believe. We should prioritize God's grace for those who are nothing like Jesus. Let's stop making things difficult and complicated for those who are trying to have Christ in their life. The spirit of the law and God's grace is always better than focusing on the letter of the law. 

I really hope and pray that Christianity begins to mirror what is actually preached. There are a few places I have been who do just that, and they focus on love. Let's just love one another and focus on our own issues. There have been way too many people who have died because they were not welcomed or loved by family, parents, church peers, and leaders. Why can't people figure it out that if we actually practiced what we preached and actually loved like Christ loved, there would be so much good to come of that.

I challenge you all to step out of your religious norms and just think for yourself. Ask yourself if it is worth it to kick you child out on the street because they love differently than you. Ask yourself if it makes sense to call people freaks or any derogatory names just because you feel uncomfortable or you think that only Men and Women should love eachother. Showing love, and being accepting should not be so difficult, but it still is for some people and I hope that changes.  After all, what would Jesus do?

Until next time,

Zac