Friday, March 25, 2011

Was the prodigal son a rice Christian?

Today I read Luke 15:11-32 in the Bible - the story of the lost (or prodigal) son.  It's a well-known story: younger son asks his father for his half of the inheritance, goes off and squanders it on wild living, repents and comes home.  Father is delighted to see him and throws a party, older son who's stayed at home working is very angry and resentful of all the fuss.

The bit that I'd never thought about before was this:
When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!  I will set out and go back to my father... Luke 15:17,18a NIV
He didn't go back to his father because he'd repented - he went back because he wanted to get something to eat.  It was when he began to imagine the encounter with his father (who is believed to symbolise God) that he works out his little speech about how sorry he was.  And when he meets his father, he doesn't seem all that interested in the prepared statement anyway.

I'm not too sure what to make of the father's lack of interest in the repentance speech, but the fact that the son came back primarily for the food fascinates me.  Was he the first rice Christian?  The story seems to confirm what I've seen in real life: people come to God for all kinds of reasons, but when they encounter God (or in this case, even when they imagine that encounter) their outlook is changed.  So it doesn't matter why you come to God: so long as you come to Him, His agenda will soon start to take over!

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