My family became Christians at an early age. As a result, I grew up reading and hearing Bible stories. Some more than others.
One such story is that of the Prodigal Son. You may know it, too. It is a parable Jesus told to demonstrate the love of the Father.
There was a wealthy father with two sons. The younger son told his father, “I would like my share of the inheritance now.”
Because of the father’s great love, he granted his son’s request. The son then set off to squander his money on sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll. Before long, there was nothing left, and the son succumbed to eating pig slop to satisfy his appetite. In the pig pen, he had a light bulb moment. “I could eat better food as a servant in my father’s house. I’ll return home.”
When the son was still a long way off, his father ran to embrace him. He threw a huge party for the son that was lost, now found.
The older sibling was not impressed. He was the model son. Never rebelled, served faithfully. His life was not celebrated. A party for his younger brother didn’t seem fair.
I was thinking about this passage of Scripture not so long ago. In my mind I spoke to the Lord, “I cannot relate to the life of a prodigal. I have never walked away from following You. But I have to admit, Lord, I can relate to the attitude of the second son. I have seen friends who have backsliden, and lived a raucous lifestyle. Then upon return to You, they have been blessed with a partner, family, home, career, and more. What about me? It’s not fair.”
God responded, “My daughter, I want you to have the attitude of the third Son.”
“Argh, Lord? I have read this story many times. There are only two…”
Then it hit me. The third Son. There is a third Son in the parable. He gave His life for both brothers. He opened not His mouth in judgement or complaint. He loved unconditionally. And He was one with the Father. I am to be the third Son.
There have been times I felt I had not been treated fairly. Self-righteousness has reared its ugly head. “I deserve better than her. My life is better. I have made wiser choices.”
The truth is, I am the prodigal. By His sacrifice and grace, I am able to be like the third Son. I exchanged my sin for His righteousness. (2 Corinthians 5:21) I am joint heir with Him. (Romans 8:17) That is why in love, mercy and freedom, I emulate the third Son to my world. To this, I have been called. I live the life of the third Son.