Philosophy Lite: The greatest story ever told
By Raymond Smith
The story of the Prodigal Son from Luke, Chapter 15, sums up just about everything in the Bible: God's love, patience and forgiveness. Some have said that this parable of Jesus is the greatest short story ever written.
God created man for himself, but in giving man freedom, it turns out that man decides to go his own way.
The story begins on a farm. The younger, adventurous son is bored with such a life and wants to see the world. He asks his father for his portion of the inheritance and his doting father grants him his request. Well, that young man takes off for a far country and soon wastes his substance with riotous living. Soon, there is a famine in the land and when the young man's money runs out, he is left destitute. He takes a job feeding pigs and was so hungry he considered eating the food given to the pigs. After a short time, he came to his senses and told himself that his father had a great plantation with plenty of everything. Swallowing his pride, he started back, and while traveling, he planned to ask his father just to reinstate him as a servant where he would be much better off with ample food and comfortable quarters.
As he approached his father's place, he was surprised to see his father running to meet him. After the two met with hugs and kisses, the father put a ring on his finger, gave him a new cloak and welcomed him back in the family. As the son gave his spiel about coming back as a servant, his father would have none of it, but forgave him and received him back as his child.
How many times has this story been relived in our own lives. The father is God. We represent the son. God was lenient and patient, but kept watch over his wandering children. When we came to our senses, we realized our lost condition and came home where love and forgiveness and a great future awaited us. Can you relate to this story? Perhaps you have not come to the point of despair, but the world out there can let you down. Now is the time to come home to the Father. In his mercy, he will forgive your offences and receive you back into his family.
This story has such a touch of reality that we are moved by it. We have seen it happen time after time, and we have seen the great sense of relief when a person makes that great decision to return to the Father.
The would-be evangelist sometimes presents the salvation message in an unappealing or even offensive way, but the author of salvation himself has put it in a way that is simple and has great appeal.
Considering that there is a life after this life, the most important act of our life is to acknowledge God and come back to him through faith in Christ.
Raymond F. Smith is president of Strong Families of Victoria.