Our True Condition

One thing that blocks knowledge and understanding is the narcissistic tendency among fallen humans to interpret the bible as being about them personally.  While it most definitely was written for us, it was not written to, or about us.  That can be a hard sell in the church of the eternal self.

Luke 15 contains three parables, the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the prodigal son. People tend to view each parable separately and then make all sorts of inferences, usually about themselves. Contemporary culture and songs like Reckless Love that glorify our self-assigned, inherent value in God’s eyes along with its adoption as a false biblical justification for social uprisings have made the parable of the Lost Sheep a recent favorite.

The cross is the only complete and genuine example of reckless love and it serves as proof that absolutely all lives matter to God. However, Luke 15 is not about individual significance or social justice.

In the parable of the lost sheep, the Shepard loses one out of ninety-nine sheep which amounts to one percent of his wealth. In the parable of the lost coin, the woman loses ten percent. Jesus clarifies that the lost sheep and the found coin both represent a sinner who repents, over whom Heaven rejoices.  The earthly value is irrelevant as God rejoices equally over one percent as He does over ten.

In the parable of the prodigal son the father loses fifty percent of his wealth. In this case, his lazy, impatient, obstinate, disrespectful, ungrateful, and entitled son gets in his face and demands to receive what he deserves before his father dies. Long story short, his eventual repentance is the fruit of his receiving exactly what he deserves.

The point of all three parables is found in the character of the eldest son who sees himself as righteous and good and therefore more deserving of a fatted calf than his brother. The petty and carnally minded elder brother has zero understanding of his father’s heart let alone what is valuable. His twisted perception of righteousness is nothing more than the fruit of his own narcissism.

Luke 15 is a declaration and celebration of the value and importance of repentance. Viewing ourselves, as lost sheep, lost coins, or prodigal sons amidst our salvation and abundant blessings for which we all tend to be ungrateful at times only confirms our true condition as spoiled, self-righteous, and entitled children.

As for those who view the Parable of the Lost Sheep as representing an oppressed people group on whose behalf, they are divinely appointed to advocate and thereby cast themselves in the role of Shepard or Messiah; these are among the lost sheep whose repentance God desires. Of course, narcissism is blinding and Jesus warned there would be wolves in sheep’s clothing.

It would behoove all of us and especially those consumed with God’s love for themselves and those obsessed with social justice to remember that we are all born deserving absolutely nothing but death, and eternal torment in Hell. Our purpose on earth is to become righteous. Our only righteousness is the righteousness of Christ. Romans 3 Our only hope is in Christ and Him Crucified. 1 Corinthians 2:2 And while justice is getting what one deserves, and mercy is not getting it; grace means getting what we do not deserve.  

Our receiving it is contingent upon our recognition of our true condition.

Nice v.s. Loving

Traditionally it was offensive for a Jew to eat with a Gentile. In Galatians 2 Paul publicly rebukes Peter for his spineless hypocrisy and what amounted to politically correct conformity when he rejected the gentiles with whom he had previously eaten and taught to eat with some Jews who came on the scene. Of course, cowardice was Peter’s primary character defect. In this case, the resulting error was in his reversion to man’s terms rather than God’s. Cowardice caused his desire to please man to exceed his willingness to obey God.

People often dismiss us as harmless quacks when we tell them God loves them or ask if they need prayer. Some may quietly despise us. Yet most will not expend the energy to actually abuse us.

People love to be told how lovable they are. It is easy and even enjoyable to explain that God loved them so much that He gave us His only son so we could live eternally in heaven with Him. John 3:16 Explaining that they are actually His enemies until we are reconciled to Him Rom 5:10, that this reconciliation only happens according to His terms, not ours and that it doesn’t matter how good we are as compared to others Luke 13:1-5 is an entirely different matter.

The popular idea that the only requirement for salvation is our acceptance of Jesus into our hearts is an example of man’s terms.

Accepting that we are His enemies bound for hell and who need to be accepted by Him are God’s terms. While the statement that “God loves the sinner and hates the sin” is true. Nevertheless, it is our chosen disposition toward sin that determines our disposition in eternity.

God’s terms are that we change our thinking and behavior. Rom 12:1-2. Our hearts (emotions) can never be trusted. Jer 17:9 Therefore we need God’s word to guide us 1 Tim 3:15-17 in order to discern true from false. 2 Tim 2:15.

The idea that every human being is inherently evil rather than good and therefore eternally damned makes people angry. That Jesus is the only way of escape and that escape is conditional makes them homicidal.

In Acts 14 Paul is stoned by Jews who had pursued him from Antioch to Lystra. Believing him to be dead they dragged his body outside the city gates. Naturally, the disciples gathered around him, probably to mourn. Then Paul gets up, dusts himself off, and goes back into the city to pick up where he left off.

It is always easier and more pleasing to others when we are nice. It is easy to be loving when people are nice.

At the end of the day there is no love apart from Truth.

What sounds nice may not be loving.