Have you ever danced with a homeless person? Have you ever sat down and ate a hearty dinner with someone not like you? Have you ever celebrated the Fourth of July or an extravagant birthday party with a person from the street who smells and for obvious reasons does not belong to the joyous occasion? You probably know by now the point of these questions: Being with persons who feel like they do not belong to the moment.
In the Parable of the Prodigal Son, we read of the story of the son who squandered his inheritance and lived an immoral life. When he came to his senses he came back to his father. And in verse 20, we see the “father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.” We saw the celebration that later issued because of the home coming. (See, Luke 15:11-32.) Here is a picture of forgiveness.
We need to remember that this parable precipitated because the Pharisees and scribes saw that Jesus was receiving sinners. He was eating and celebrating with them (Luke 15:2). As Dr. Green says: Jesus is inviting the religious person to come, and “not only to drop their concerns about Jesus but, indeed, to replicate his behavior in their own practices” (Joel B. Green. The Gospel of Luke. 1997:569).
Here are some questions for us to ponder: When was the last time you joined a celebration together with persons who are considered outcasts by today’s religious standards? Do you feel joy when you see people, those who do not belong to our church gatherings, when they come to a closer encounter with the Good News of Jesus Christ? Would you be able to embrace someone, no matter how smelly and dirty they are, knowing that God himself have embraced everyone with his forgiving arms?
“Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord does not count against them and in whose spirit is no deceit.” (Psalm 32:1-2. NIV).