This week we started our new message series: Stand By Me. Pastor Brock continued to build on last week's exploration of the meaning of family.
In the parable of the prodigal son we hear Jesus tell of a son who leaves home and spends all he has. He leaves his sense of belonging, knowing that to leave meant being rejected by his community should he return. A display of public rejection would be made at the entrance to the town, where a large ceremonial clay pot would be broken and the community would shout “you are cut off from your people!” When he finally reaches the end of his rope he returns home, hoping to be a hired servant.
He says to himself "I know I will never belong to my family again but at least I'll have a roof over my head. Maybe some shelter and money." He assumes that he won't be restored to a son. He believes that part of his identity to be forever lost.
But what do we see: a Father who comes running. A Father whose first act is to restore his son's sense of belonging. He risks ruining his reputation among his peers; he would rather not be part of his community if it means seeing his son rejected. Above all else he wants his son to hear the words -"You belong to me, you are my son! No matter what you've done - no matter what you're going to do - you BELONG to my family."
Knowing this grace, this unconditional love, as our own opens us up to the question, "Now, how shall we live?". Grace means you have a God that gives the best of what He has regardless of how you behave. So does that knowledge draw you CLOSER to Jesus, or make you more independent? Do you allow it to affect the way you draw others in? The belonging you're able to extend to others?
Heaven comes to earth not primarily through events or conferences, God comes to earth through relationships. It's what we were intended for.
I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one — I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
John 17: 22-23
This week as you're praying, ask yourself: "Who am I keeping? Who am I bringing into belonging?"