The Best Robe – the Parable of the Prodigal Son

light through forest

“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him….Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ (Luke 15:22-24, the Parable of the Prodigal Son)

It’s common to hear in Christian circles the saying that Jesus would have come to earth and died for just one sinner. It’s meant to encourage each of us to know that Jesus would have sacrificed himself ‘just for me,’ but I had always found it difficult to accept.

It’s not that I didn’t intellectually assent to the statement; in fact, I believe it to be true. It’s just that it never felt real. It would never stir my emotions. I had a hard time really sensing that God would love me so deeply.

Then I read the parable of the prodigal son in a new way. In fact, really just one part of it has changed the way I see my relationship with God.

I’ve been meditating on the robe.

Read More

What Seems Like Failure

blue sky over tall mountains

The books of the Old Testament prophets can be so challenging to read that it’s easy to overlook the big concepts and the larger historical events that these books reference.

I’ve been reading through the Old Testament books of Amos and Hosea lately and one of the most fascinating things to me about these men is that although they devoted their lives trying to save the people of northern Israel, they ultimately failed.

What does it mean that God called Amos and Hosea to spend their entire lives doing something that was met with utter failure?
Read More

Angry at God

dark purple clouds and lightening

In his spiritual and ethnographic account of being a missionary to African Masai tribes in the 1960’s, Vincent Donovan writes of a surprising encounter with a Masai leader (Christianity Rediscovered, ch 4).

Vincent begins his outreach to the Masai quite sincerely, by bringing up various spiritual themes and asking the people their opinion. During his first week with the Masai, he asks what they think about God (God was not a foreign concept to the Masai, they already believed in a supreme deity).

“If I ever run into God, I will put a spear through him,” says one elder.

As different as the Masai are from Westerners today, this sentiment toward God is surprisingly similar to our own reaction toward God when faced with mounting suffering.

Read More