Episode 1. It’s Time to Party
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There’s a streak in each one of us that wants to rebel. You know – kick our heals up and just party. But you can’t live like that all the time without there being some consequences. My hunch is that there are a lot of people on this planet who are wandering in some kind […]
There’s a streak in each one of us that wants to rebel. You know – kick our heals up and just party. But you can’t live like that all the time without there being some consequences.
My hunch is that there are a lot of people on this planet who are wandering in some kind of spiritual wilderness. It’s a wilderness experience that looks something like this: I’ve been wandering around here for what seems like years. I know … I know it’s out there somewhere but I just can’t find it. Well, well probably … probably I can. I just don’t think I’m ready, I just don’t think I’m good enough. Besides, when I find Him, He’ll want me to change. He’ll want me to give up this and that and then life won’t be fun anymore. So, I’ll keep on wandering through the wilderness, that’s fun, at least it used to be. But now, now I don’t know anymore.
It’s a dilemma faced by a lot of people. When it comes to God, when it comes to Jesus, some of those people may never really have bumped into Jesus out there at all. Maybe some of those people wandering in that spiritual wilderness have and they’ve walked with Him for a while, but then they went their own way. And maybe some of them, well they thought they were walking with Him but He seems to have wandered off somewhere while they were busy doing something else. And what started off feeling like an oasis, what started off feeling like it was fun, what started off feeling good, after a while it just feels a bit like a desert, it feels like a wilderness because it is.
I think I’ll stay here, I don’t think I can go back, I don’t think I can go looking for Him, if I take that first step back towards Him, oh man … It could be a long road to home. And it doesn’t matter from which direction we’ve come, it doesn’t matter where we started from, we can all end up in this same place, in a spiritual wilderness. In a place where, I don’t know, there’s no fulfilment there’s something empty, there’s a hole, we’re looking for something we can put our finger on it, maybe we’ve met Jesus somewhere along the way before but we don’t know whether He’s real or whether He’s for us. We all face that dilemma at some point in our lives. What do we do? Where do we go? How do we deal with that dilemma?
This week we’re going to look at that dilemma from A Different Perspective through a story that Jesus told. It was a parable, not a real story. It was a parable to illustrate what He was trying to get across. And it’s a story about the prodigal son. Maybe you’ve heard about it, maybe you’ve never heard about it. Today and the next four days on A Different Perspective, we’re going to work our way through that story and say, “What was Jesus trying to say to the people He was talking to, and what’s He trying to say to us now about this spiritual wilderness experience?”
I’ve called this little series “The Long Road Home”. It all starts … starts with an impulse we all have at some point – It’s time to party, it’s time to kick up our heels, it’s time to rebel against authority, against structure, against routine, against norms. Whatever it is, at some point in our lives we all want to kick up our heels.
My aunty who’s something of a bush philosopher, she would always say, “You know if your kids are kicking up their heels you should thank God because we all kick up our heels at some time in life and its better they do it when they’re young than when they’re old.” You know, I think maybe she’s got a point. But we have this impulse to rebel, that’s why young folk put studs in their eyebrows and have orange or green hair.
Back in my day it was jeans, you know denim jeans in the 60’s and 70’s were a sign of rebellion, that’s why most of us baby boomers, even thought we’re in our forties and fifties and dare I say it, even in our sixties, still wear jeans. It was our symbol of rebellion.
As adults we rebel against authority in the workplace, maybe we rebel against a marriage relationship and people go out and have affairs. I just don’t want to play this same game over and over and over again anymore. I’ve had enough I want to stop the merry-go-round and get off and do something different.
So often people go through a stage whether they’re young or whether they’re old – a stage of rebellion. You often see it strongest in young folk whose fathers have been Ministers because they’ve grown up in an environment that’s organised, it’s Godly and it’s all of those things, and they come to that point in their lives when they just want to rebel.
Jesus put His finger on that in this parable, this story to explain the wilderness experience. Don’t often do this on A Different Perspective but I’d like to read you that story, if you have a Bible, if you’d like to look it up later you’ll find it in the New Testament; it’s in Luke Chapter 15. This is what Jesus said, we’re only going to read a little short part of it today and we’ll follow it through during the rest of the week. This is how the story goes:
A man had two sons the younger of them said to his father, “Dad, give me my share of the estate that I have coming to me when you die.” And so the father distributed the assets to them, and not many days later this youngest son gathered everything he owned together, all he had and travelled to a distant country where he squandered his estate on foolish living. (You may have heard the term prodigal living; we’ll look at what that means in a minute.)
So here we have the younger of the two sons, he had enough of Dad, he had enough of the life on the farm working with his brother, day after day, the same thing. He was a young man, he wanted to go and experience what’s going on in the world, he wanted to go to some far distant land, so he rebelled and he said, “Dad, you know you’re going to fall off your twig one day well you might as well give me the money now, and I want to spend it the way I want to spend it.” I often look at the decision but his father said, “Well, here is your inheritance go and do what you think.” And off this young man goes, partying, drinking, wild parties, prostitutes; you name it he was into it.
Now over the course of this week we’ll see how this plays itself out, but it began with a rebellion. Jesus tells this story to explain the long road back, but it begins with a rebellion. It begins with saying to Dad, “I’ve had enough of you! There is a lure of life out there of me doing it my way.” As people wander through this spiritual wilderness maybe they can ask themselves a question, maybe that’s you, maybe you can ask yourself some questions. At what point did I rebel? What does my brand of rebellion look like in life? What form does it take?
Because we hang on to it, there’s a pride about our rebellion, we don’t want to admit it, it ain’t working. But we don’t want to let go of the things that we’ve put this emotional investment in to. We’ll talk about that a bit tomorrow that whole thing that I’ve made a choice, I’ve gone and done it my way and it’s kind of … well … it’s embarrassing when we have to say, “I got it wrong.”
And so often people are wandering through a spiritual wilderness, aimlessly and they have a sense that there’s some root cause that there’s some root rebellion, there’s something that they got wrong but they don’t want to let it go. And as long as they hang on to it there’s that lostness and emptiness inside, however successful they might appear on the outside.
The very first step on that long road home is seeing the wilderness for what it is, seeing that original rebellion for what it is, naming it, owning it, saying it, saying, “Yep that’s me! I’ve done that, I’m the one that’s rebelled. I’m the one that told Dad to take his farm and look after it himself, I’m going to go and live my life my way.” There are always consequences to that sort of rebellion.
What does it look like in your life? What does it look like in my life? Over the next four days we’re going to work our way through this story and see what Jesus was saying about the long road home.