Tag Archives: prodigal church

Called To This?

I have not been “called” to this.

The easy chair.

(Or the easy crowd.)

Though I confess?

(There are days I wish I were.)

Simply put God has called me to the Prodigal-Church.

Yeah, you know.

The ones referred to as:

The Messy-misfits.

The Raucous-runaways.

The Wrecked and Wounded.

The ones who have heard it all before and just ain’t listenin’ anymore!

(Yeah, them.)

These are the “ones” who are severely bruised, deeply disappointed and pissed off at God, The Church, or all of the above.

(Nope. Not an easy crowd.)

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But, you know what else?

God passionately LOVES these that many folks just privately hope will “Go away.” leaving us in ‘The Good Church’ to our sleepy tranquility.

(Yeah.)

I know because I was one of these prodigals, and truth be known? Sometimes I still am.

Ticked-off that is—not prodigal.

I still get angry because many of these folks have been brutally beat-up good-n’-proper.

Perhaps they “once upon a time” believed. But, now?

Now they ain’t havin’ anything to do with it!

They have hit the dusty trail, and now have turtle-shells thick-n’-crusty around once trusting hearts.

Yet they are STILL HIS. And are perhaps MORE WANTED than they were in the beginning.

(Before it all went wrong in their lives.)

Make no mistake about it—He still calls them BELOVED, and He longs for them to come home to Him.

These the Saints consider rabble-rousers, and futile-flotsam, He calls with infinite tenderness, “My Beloved.

I believe this because—I was one of them when He came after me.

(And I do understand how “The Church” feels.)

I fondly remember the days of easy crowds and occupying easy chairs. (Yeah, I confess.) All gone now, and it’s okay because I believe someone needs to reach Wounded Sheep! All those Prickly-Prodigals with crusty shells around hearts that have stopped believing in anyone calling themselves Christian—walking away from our churches—taking the back door out.

Yep, they’re my assignment. My mission. My project.

Broken Vessels Recovery Project

(To be more exact.)

  • Some in The Church say they are MIA.
  • Some know they are AWOL.

But whatever “they might believe? Know this.

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They are His.

They are loved.

His very own Beloved.

(And wounded or wrecked—He wants them back! )

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Why Bother With Prodigals?

Yeah, why?

Don’t we in the church have enough problems?

Must we really go to all this bother?

For Prodigals?

Well, I wondered the same thing until I read Timothy Keller’s book, The Prodigal God.

In his chapter titled Redefining Lostness, he wrote this:

It is typical for people who have turned their backs on religion to believe that Christianity is no different. They have been in churches brimming with elder-brother types. They say, “Christianity is just another religion.” But Jesus says, no, that is not true. Everybody knows that the Christian gospel calls us away from licentiousness of younger brotherness, but few realize it also condemns moralistic elder brotherness.

Our big cities are filled with younger brothers who fled from churches in the heartland that were dominated by elder brothers. When I moved to New York City in the late 1980s to begin a new church, I thought I would meet many secular people who had no familiarity with Christianity at all. I did, but to my surprise, I met just as many people who had been raised in churches and in devout families and had come to New York City to get as far away from them as possible. After about a year of ministry, we had two or three hundred people attending services. I was asked, “Who is coming to your church?” Upon reflection, I answered that it was about one-third non-believers, one-third believers, and one-third “recovering” believers—younger brothers. I had met so many younger brothers who had been hurt and offended by elder brothers that neither they nor I were sure whether they still believed in the Christian faith or not. (emphasis mine)

Hmmmmmm.

They are a bother—those pesky prodigals!

(Yeah.)

A BIG bother!

Those pesky Prodigals—of ours!

(I can almost hear every “Elder Brother” mumbling under their breath, “They’re foolish. Reckless! Don’t they deserve everything they get?”)

Yeah. I’ve thought this myself in yonder days.

(Even said so.)

So why should The Church bother with calamitous rebels such as these?

These troubled-troublemakers!

Shouldn’t we just jettison this riff-raff and get on with our good n’ Godly “Christian” causes?

Ah, but let me first ask, “Whom should we jettison?”

Our foolish and undisciplined Younger Brothers, or our unloving-law-upholding Elder Brothers? Keller makes the legitimate case that BOTH brothers are lost, and both in need of repenting and returning to The Father.

(Oh, dear.)

We the Faithful Ones?

Lost?

Doesn’t scripture say,

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53:6Isaiah 53:6
English: World English Bible - WEB

6 All we like sheep have gone astray; everyone has turned to his own way; and Yahweh has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

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KJV

All we like-sheep… yeah.

(So, can I ask again?)

Why, for heaven’s sake, should we in the church bother going after our Prodigals!?!

Well, perhaps the best reason I can think of, is because we who were once counted as hopelessly lost?

Like that pesky little lost and wandering sheep?

(Yeah, you know.)

That story!

Didn’t Christ go to great bother?

For us?

 

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Part IX ~ The Father’s Blessing On The Broken

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“Jesus’s teaching consistently attracted the irreligious while offending the Bible-believing, religious people of his day. However, in the main, our churches today do not have this effect. The kind of outsiders Jesus attracted are not attracted to contemporary churches, even our most avant-garde ones. We tend to draw conservative, buttoned-down, moralistic people. The licentious and liberated or the broken and marginal avoid church. That can only mean one thing. If the preaching of our ministers and the practice of our parishioners do not have the same effect on people that Jesus had, then we must not be declaring the same message that Jesus did.”
— The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the     Christian Faith, Timothy Keller

 

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