Good morning, Church, and good morning, people who are watching this online. It’s been I was I’ve been out of the pulpit or I don’t know if this is a pulpit table. I’ve been away from the table for about two months, and I’m excited to be back with the opportunity to share with you the things that God has been teaching me over the last seven weeks or so. You know, I took this little sabbatical from preaching to spend time in study and in contemplation and to try to discern and to pray about what God wanted to tell me, but also where God wanted to take us collectively.
And I’m really grateful for you, for the church and for the eldership and the staff for giving me this time. Also, I just want to say how impressed I’ve been with the brothers who taught these past few weeks on the feasts. Yeah. Amen. I heard from so many of you and certainly I felt it myself. God really used them to just bring the scriptures to life. And I’m so grateful that I can kind of step away and have these guys come up and really do a great job.
And so, once again, I’m really thankful for them. And I know we give them a round of applause. Let’s do it one more time. If you’re watching online, why don’t you drop some claps in the chat for them, I know less and less people are still trying to figure out whether or not to come to service or to be online. And so I’ll be addressing the camera a lot more this time because I think times are weird.
So I love you online people. I love you in person people. You’re all beautiful to me. I, I didn’t really know what I was looking for when I started studying the Bible in this time that I was away, all I wanted to do was just study out the Old Testament and I didn’t have a problem. I was trying to answer. I didn’t have a solution. I was hoping to find I just wanted my heart in my mind to be open by the spirit and God’s word, and probably because the word is alive and active.
The theme that was continuously pressed on my heart over and over again was something I wasn’t again looking for. But now I’m convinced it’s what we need to talk about in this cultural moment. And certainly I could select from a ton of passages that summarize this idea. But Isaiah forty two is really the one I see most clearly. And if you want if you have a bible, you can turn there with me. The Book of Isaiah is filled with prophecies of Jesus, this coming messiah.
He’s never named, just described. And that’s really where Isaiah Chapter forty two begins. It’s described. It’s describing the soon to be servant, this chosen one who possesses the spirit of God, who will eventually lead his people into knowledge and understanding, teaching them to discern the times. And what’s interesting about Isaiah, forty two, almost unlike anywhere else in the Book of Isaiah, is that that vision of this coming messiah is also contrasted by the current reality of the people who are serving God, namely the people of Israel.
God compares Israel, the nation of God, his people, to Jesus Christ, the soon to be coming Messiah. So at the start of the chapter, you hear, hey, there’s a one coming who’s going to lead us in knowledge. And at the end you see a description of a people who have failed and fallen into the same narrative arc of the rest of the scriptures. What God describes in Isaiah forty two is seen throughout the Bible.
We see it in the fall of Man in Genesis Chapter three. We see it in the the the failure of Israel in the book of numbers. We see it in the formation or the failure formation of a new nation in the Book of Judges. We see it in the exile of the people of Judah and the destruction of the people of Israel in the Book of the Prophets. And it’s God’s way of describing his people. And I just want to warn you, it’s a little bit intense.
But but as we get through it, I certainly think the point that we’re going to make is meaningful. As the chapter 42, verse 18 says, here you deaf look you blind and see. OK, so he’s talking about some deaf people who are the deaf people and who are the blind people? Who is blind but my servants and deaf like the messenger I send? Who is blind like the one in covenant with me? Obviously we know who that is.
The people of God, the people of Israel. Blind like the servant of the Lord. Verse 20. You have seen many things, but you pay no attention. Your ears are open, but you do not listen. In other words, you, my people, I long for you to see. I want you to understand, but you don’t pay attention to my ways and my word and my will. This is a warning, but it’s a warning of love.
It’s kind of like a mom and dad or mom or dad who is trying to remind or challenge their young son or wayward daughter. Hey, if you continue to hang with this crowd, you’re going to end up in a place you don’t want to be. Don’t do it. This is a warning of love. You saying I’m talking to you, but you have decided to choose your own way. You pay no attention. You choose your own path.
Your ears are open, but you do not listen. This is not only a statement of love, but it’s also a statement of judgment of his people. And it’s a summary of the cause of much of the failure of God’s people throughout the entirety of the Bible. From the fall of man when the serpent tempts men and women, Adam and Eve. Hey, if you eat from this fruit, your eyes will be open and you’ll be able to do what?
See. A.K.A., you can choose your own way, you will listen and you’ll be able to choose your own path, you can be the author of your own destiny. How appealing is that in the first century of man and how appealing is it for us today? See men and women since our creation have been tempted to reject God’s interpretation of the world and instead to create our own way of seeing things. As a matter of fact, this is all really perfectly summarized in the Book of Judges.
Judges chapter twenty one, verse twenty five. It says this Everyone did what was right in his own eyes. If you’re living in America today, you’re like, this might be a really good thing, but but it wasn’t at all. Judges is describing the longest and bleakest epic in the Old Testament. Four hundred and fifty years, a time frame spanning longer than the the length of this country has been a nation. The entire era was filled with horrific acts of evil, bloody conflicts, tales of human misery and judges twenty one twenty five is the final verse of the whole book. The writer is summing up this moment. He going, Hey, OK, how can we sum up this horrific time for mankind? Why was it so bad? Well, everyone did what was right in his own eyes. It was evil. They were lost and infinitely more scary eventually along the way, they lost their God. And so, yes, it’s strong. But don’t miss the point.
See what these verses are exploring. What they’re trying to communicate is something that we have always had to deal with. How are we supposed to decide what’s right and what’s wrong? How do we look at the world, how do we see we’re obviously trying to have the eyes of God in the mind of God, but how are we supposed to see how does God want us to see? What would God say about the popular viewpoints of our society? What do you what would he say about the instructions given to us about how to think or how to feel about the things happening all around us?
See, what we’re talking about is critical here today. Today, I want to preach on a subject that I’m calling the challenge with the way I see it. If you’re if you’re watching online, you can put that on the chat. The way I see it. Just flood the chat with the way I see it. Hopefully help the algorithm get more people to actually see it. And from 2006 to 2008, Starbucks had a campaign called The Way I see it. There were printed inspirational quotes on paper cups.
It didn’t roll out all over the country. But I remember getting one of these cups and thinking this is kind of a cool thing. This is what they look like. There was a Starbucks cup on the front and on the back there was this quote. There was these random quotes. This one’s about reading a book. But you could see that I think it was like in the four hundreds, four hundred different quotes that they had.
A few years ago I was wondering why they stopped like doing this, because I thought this is kind of cool. Your drinking your coffee. You’re reading an inspirational quote. So I Googled it. I Googled why did Starbucks stop doing the way I see it quotes. And here was the answer. The United States is a melting pot. There was a complaint from by the fact that there was no Islamic quotes, though there were a lot of Christian quotes.
And there was a rumor that Starbucks was anti-Semitic because of, quote, number 14, which I don’t even know what quote that was. These are quotes on a paper cup that caused controversy. Why? Because the way I see it isn’t the way everyone sees it. Who gets to decide if the way I see it is actually the right way to see it? And who gets to decide if the way you see it is the right way to see it? The way I see it is a problem because it’s not the way that everyone sees it.
I’m going to teach you a new vocab word. Weltenshauung, look at this word. It’s a German word that means world perception. Welta is world Welten is world and schauung with those u’s are perception. Perception is the ability to see or hear world meaning the world. This word describes the way you look and see the world. Everyone has a Weltenshauung. There’s another way to say there’s another word for this world view. Everybody has a world view, a world view or Weltenshauung colors the way you think about everything, it triggers the way you make decisions and it drives our responses. One definition I found and says it’s our collection of presuppositions, convictions and values from which we try to understand and make sense out of the world and life. Your world view determines whether or not you think a paper cup quote is offensive, but it does actually much more than that. It influences the way you think about everything. How do you think about public education?
Well, think about your worldview. How do you think about economic policy and foreign aid and the use of military force and environmentalism and animal rights and genetic enhancement and vaccines and community and faith and all sorts of things. All of those things are painted by your world view and most importantly, your worldview influences the way you think and relate to God himself. And it’s because of this that throughout the Bible, we see God consistently and constantly addressing the way his creation looks at the world around them.
And it’s also the reason why we see God opposing the adoption of the popular worldviews of the surrounding nations of his people. Consider what God said to the nations surrounding about the nations surrounding Israel and Leviticus, chapter 18 and verse two. Don’t worry, I’m going somewhere with all this. I am the Lord, your God. You must not do as they do in Egypt. They had just left Egypt and he’s saying, hey, I’m God, don’t live like the Egyptians.
Don’t be like them where you used to live. You lived there, meaning you adopted a lot of their practices and a lot of the way of their thinking. Don’t be like them. And then he says, and you must not do as they do in the land of Canaan. So, hey, where you left? Don’t be like them, but where you’re going, don’t be like them either. Do not follow their practices, you must obey my laws and be careful to follow my decrees.
I am the Lord, your God. See God wanted his people not only to do but to think distinctly different than Egypt, to think and do distinctly different than the world around them. And why and here is kind of the crux of this. Here’s what all this boils down, because our creator understood something that we don’t even understand about ourselves. God knew that how we think about the world would influence how we relate to him. And today, I would like to attempt to do for you what Moses and the prophets did for the people of Israel.
I would like to address some of the world views, well really two in particular some of the Weltenshauungs that I believe are influencing the way we relate and view God and the way we relate and view his community. I’m not going to talk about how these things connect to paper cups because I don’t care or to politics. I’m really not interested in any of that. You can connect all those dots for yourself. I just want to talk about how they make you relate to God and to the people around him.
You’re with me? And at the end, I’d like to give you an alternative, a new way of looking at the world, hopefully through the lens of God and his son, Jesus Christ, and maybe we’ll be able to paint a picture and to change our lens and to look at life a little bit more clearly. Would you join me in Luke Chapter 15? I’m going to get there in just a second. When we consider the frequency at which God talked about the idea of seeing things we shouldn’t be surprised at, the same thing is echoed by Jesus, his son, and the New Testament writers.
Like look at this rebuke as you’re turning there. I just want to read you this rebuke of Jesus to the religious leaders. Jesus said for judgment, I’ve come into the world so that the blind will see. Remember this idea about being blind and those who see will become blind. Some Pharisees were with him I’m sorry, some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, what are we blind to? Jesus is amazing. Jesus said if you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin.
But now that you claim you can see your guilt remains. This sounds like Isaiah chapter 42 right? He’s like, hey, if you if you think you can interpret the world, you don’t know what you’re talking about. But if you just say to me, hey, I don’t know what I’m doing, I need your wisdom, I need your guidance, then I will allow you to see. It’s because of the fact that you think that you can see that makes you blind. That’s kind of intense. That’s Jesus words.
But the New Testament writers are all over this. One of most popular verses, Romans Chapter Twelve verse two do not conform to the patterns of the world. Sounds like Leviticus, right? Do not but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. How about first, John chapter two, verse fifteen. Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the father is not in them. Or how about Colossians chapter one, verse eight.
See to it that no one takes you captive to hollow and deceptive philosophies which depend on human traditions and elemental spirits, spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ. And my point and showing you this verses is just to reiterate the idea that the tradition of God reminding his people of deceptive worldviews, our dominant popular cultural views is is all over the Bible like it’s a tradition because he realizes that they can be detrimental to our faith. OK, with all that backdrop, I’m going to look at Luke fifteen.
But before we get to Luke fifteen, I gonna give you some background of Luke 15. Guys I haven’t preached in seven weeks, so I got a lot of stuff. Christ is on his way to Jerusalem. Luke, Chapter fifteen. This is the last month of his life. He’s been preaching and healing for nearly three years and he has been a critic of the culture. He has developed a relentless enemy in the pharisees. These people, the teachers of the law, the Pharisees, they’re basically the architects of one of the most popular viewpoints.
They are legalists, legalists. They’re hostile towards Jesus. Jesus calls them self righteous, in the passage we just read Jesus calls them blind. That theme again. But Jesus is not just talking Luke 15 to the Pharisees, he’s also talking to the crowds. These people are the people on the margins of society. They’re what the Bible calls sinners and tax collectors, the poor, the diseased. At the beginning of his ministry, these people started following Jesus and they followed him for three years straight.
Everywhere he went, the crowds were there and they had an un, you know, satisfiable, I don’t know if that’s a word, appetite for the things that Jesus gave them. One account in John, Chapter six, we see it play out. Jesus feeds the crowd bread. He does this incredible miracle. He feeds the whole crowd bread. He eventually crosses over the sea to kind of get away from them and to, like, preach more. And he crosses over the sea and they all follow him and they all go over to him.
They’re like, hey, can you give us more bread? And Jesus, like, I’m not giving you any more bread, but you can eat my flesh and drink my blood. He’s saying, I don’t want you to come for the things I’m giving you. I want you to come for me. The crowd doesn’t like that message at all. They all leave angry until eventually they all come back for more signs and more bread and more healing. So these are the two groups that Jesus is speaking to in Luke, Chapter 15, the religious leaders and the crowd.
And Jesus is going to tell a story about two sons who have a way of viewing the world that has impacted the way they view God. These two sons are kind of a caricature of these world views and these two groups. And now we are finally ready. Luke, chapter 15, verse 11. Jesus continued, there was a man who had two sons, this is maybe the most popular parable ever written, but maybe you can listen to it with a little bit of a new spin or new eyes.
The younger son, the younger one, said to the father, father, give me my share of the estate so he divided this property between them. Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had set for a distant country, and there squandered his wealth and wild living. We have to pause here, because it’s hard for us to grasp in our historical time frame just how offensive this story is. This idea the younger son grabbing his father’s estate or taking his father’s estate would essentially be saying that the younger son is asking for the father to drop dead.
Drop dead, I want my inheritance now. That would be incredibly alarming today, but it would be utterly shocking in Jesus’s day. What an offensive thought. Dad, I want your money so bad. I don’t care if you’re alive or dead. That’s the introduction we get to this wonderful young son, the son represents the crowds, and I also believe he represents a world view that dominates our society. There’s a lot of names for this worldview, but today I’m going to call it the world view of the customer.
Or the consumer, I should say. The consumer world view, let me give you a working definition of this consumer world view, a consumer is fundamentally a world view that says consumerism is fundamentally a world view, that says the essence of life is fulfilling your own desires. Why do you live? Consumerism would say you live to make yourself happy to fulfill your needs. You are a customer and the customer is always right. You live to fulfill the things that are aching inside of you.
And so everything you do is always justified if it allows you to fulfill your desires, as long as it doesn’t make someone else not fulfill their desires. Some people call this postmodernism. Some people call this selfishness, selfishness, let’s call it today consumerism. This is a worldview that says that everything and everyone’s value is determined by how well they satisfy our desires. Consumerism puts you and me at the center. We’re at the center of the universe and everything and everyone else revolves around us.
For the consumer. Everyone and everything is a commodity. Let me talk a little bit about what a commodity is. For an illustration, we have to kind of think about economics and just stick with me here for a second. Imagine that you’re a rice farmer and you’re living in Southeast Asia and you’re a substenance farmer, meaning you farm just enough for your own food. In this illustration, why is rice valuable? Well, because rice is rice. That’s why it’s valuable.
Rice equals food. Yeah, if I farm, I get to eat. The value of rice is that it’s food. It has what we would call innate value, inherent value or intrinsic value is another word you can use. Rice is valuable because it’s rice. You with me so far? Now assume you grow more rice than just what you need to eat. Assume you grow a hundred extra pounds, you can’t eat it, so you decide to sell it.
Now all that rice has become what we call a commodity. Meaning it’s no longer valuable for being rice, it’s now valuable for what it can be traded for. Rice can become money, awesome, which could eventually become tools, which could eventually become a cyber truck. You got my point? So, so, so Rice, if you’re if you’re the only thing you need to catch is this, is that it’s no longer valued for what it is, but for what it can be traded for.
That’s called commodification. That’s what the consumer world view says. Today, the consumer world view has applied this to everything and everyone. Nothing has inherent value. Nothing. Everything and everyone’s value is determined by how well they can be traded to fulfill my desires. Like in our culture, think about this for a second. What’s the inherent value of an unborn child? What’s the inherent value of the worker in Bangladesh who makes our garments? What’s the inherent value of the prisoner in the Broward County jail?
Or the elderly person in a retirement community who’s all his family is gone or all her family is gone. See, in one of the most dominant worldview in our societies, if someone can’t help us meet our desires, they are no longer valuable. That’s what consumerism teaches us, that’s sorry, but a lot of all of us are brought up in that society that the customer is always right. you need to have it your way and it needs to be flame broiled or whatever.
And this is what represents the crowd I told you the story about John Chapter six, right. What is the what did the crowd say? Give us the bread. Otherwise we’re going to leave you. That’s the perfect illustration of this, what is Jesus is saying, look, Jesus is connecting this to the attitude of the son. Dad, your value to me is just my inheritance. I don’t love you for being my dad. I want your stuff and then I’m gone.
Jesus is making a point that we have to be cautious of. See, in the world view of the crowd that what it means is that if you stop having bread, I leave you. And here’s the question, if that’s your world view, do you really have a relationship with God? And when we had our whole life and our whole foundation in this consumer society, it makes sense that we would approach God the very same way that we approach whoppers.
It would make sense if we have our whole life built on this, that we would approach God the same exact way that we approach the furniture store down the street. God carries, in this world view, no inherent value. God is not valuable for being God. God is valuable for what he can give you. The only thing that gives God value is his usefulness to me. What does he give me? What do I get from him? How can he help me through my life?
And once he no longer becomes useful, I’m gone. I’m Audie. God, I came into the church. My marriage was on the rocks. We were going to get a divorce and you didn’t help me. And so I’m gone. That’s the way it plays out. I started coming to church and man, the I realized that the sermons were helpful, but then they did a series on something I didn’t care about. And so now I’m gone because it’s no longer helpful to me.
I prayed for a husband and God in the church didn’t come through. And so now I’m gone. Goodbye. See you later. I thought my depression would go away. It didn’t go away. I thought my anxiety would go away. It didn’t go away because it didn’t go away. I don’t need God anymore. I’m going to find something else. If my needs aren’t met, I’m gone. You didn’t bring me through it. You get me what I wanted.
You can get me the things I need. And so I’ll see you later. I’m going to something else. The consumer, the consumer. This is the mindset of the younger brother. The younger brother isn’t interested in a relationship with his father. He just wants his father’s stuff. Give me my inheritance now so I can go fulfill my desires in a distant country. And I don’t want to beat a dead horse, but some of us approach God this exact same way, we’re not really interested in Jesus, we’re only interested in what Jesus can give us.
You know, when I was 11 years old, I wanted to play basketball. I was like my whole life. All I wanted to do is be like a professional basketball player, not 11. But my first opportunity really came up when I was in sixth grade of playing like in team sports. So I was like, I want to make my middle my middle school basketball team. The middle school basketball team was only open to to seventh and eighth graders.
And then I was like, I’m a sixth grader. I’m going to try out for the team. They allowed one sixth grader to come on the team as like, you’re the best in the school type of thing. And so I’m, like, working my tail off and I’m I’m praying to God and my parents had just started coming to church. So I’m thinking, I have a consumer worldview and thinking, man, if I could just if God would just give me this, you know, I’m making all these deals.
God, if you would just let me be on this basketball team, the sixth grade basketball team, I will give you my whole life, you know, or whatever. And and so I’m making these deals with God and I’m like, do our first tryouts and I look for my name and not my name is not on it. And then the coach has this, like, second chance tryout. And so I prayed for like weeks and weeks and weeks to God for the first chance tryouts.
And I got nothing. So I’m laying in my bed and I’ll always remember this, unlike in middle school, my last chance, you know? And so I’m like, God didn’t give me anything. And so and this is so cringy. Honestly, it’s like uncomfortable to even say. So, when I was laying in bed, I decided to pray to the devil. I’m dead serious. I’m 11 years old. Give me this basketball team and I will give you my life.
Now, that’s nuts. Absolutely insane. I didn’t make the team, and so hopefully the deal was nullified, but but what influenced that? What influenced that? Well God has no value, the only value that God has is his ability to give me stuff. Give me my middle school basketball team or I’ll worship someone else, make me rich, or I’ll worship someone else. He exists to help me get through my problems. He exists to give me what I want.
And just and just a quick note. Don’t get me wrong. God gives great gifts man. He is the author of Life. The Bible says that we should ask him without without any reservation, that we should ask God. But here’s the point. If this is the only dimension of your Christian life, then you are plain and simple, a consumer Christian. That’s all you are. If you’re on the verge right now of no longer coming to church or no longer watching online or no longer being a part of what we do here because God hasn’t fulfilled your desires just plain and simple, you have the world view of consumer Christianity and it’s something to really, really fight against.
Look at the response. Look, look, look at the rest of the story, verse 14, after you had after he had spent everything. This is the younger son. There was a severe famine in the whole country and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to the citizens of that country who sent him into the field to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods the pigs were eating, but no one gave them anything.
Very 17. When he came to his senses, he said, How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare? And here I am starving to death? I will set back. I set out and go back to my father and say to him, Father, I’ve sinned against heaven, against you. I’m no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants. So I went back and went to his father.
I’ve always read this parable as though this was the moment of repentance. You know, this selfish son squanders his father’s wealth, loses it all in a famine, and now he’s like he has no better opportunities. So he makes a 180, comes to his senses. He goes back to the father. He begs for forgiveness. What a model of repentance. I hope all of us would do that, you know, beg for forgiveness. But the more I spent time in this passage, the more and the more I read it carefully, the more I see that this actually isn’t a moment of repentance.
Think about his speech. It might be unfamiliar to you, but Jesus’s audience would have connected the dots right away. This is Exodus, chapter ten, verse sixteen. This is Pharoah’s speech. Pharaoh quickly summoned Moses and Aaron said, I have sinned against against the Lord, your God and against you. Now forgive me my sins. If the Lord God that to take away the deadly plague, to take the deadly plague away from me.
What is Pharaoh want? Does Pharaoh want God? No. Pharaoh wants the plague to be ending. This is the eighth plague, by the way. Pharaoh doesn’t want God. This is the same thing my friend Joseph Porter talking about this parable said the son is ripping off Pharaoh. He’s desperate, not repentant. Why does he go home? What is he looking for, is he looking for a relationship with the father? No, he’s looking for a job.
I think God is trying to expose a way of thinking. That is so dominant in our world, was certainly dominant in his world and sometimes religious responses, they look like altruistic, though they’re actually just self-serving. See, the son doesn’t come back to the father to be with the father. He comes back to get, I’m sorry, he comes back to get a job from him. Maybe I could ask you the same question I asked you before, but do you really want Jesus?
Is he your treasure? Or is He a way of getting the things you really treasure. I want a good marriage, so I go to Jesus. I want polite children, so I go to Jesus, I want freedom from my anxiety, so I go to Jesus. I want to get to heaven, so I go to Jesus, is Jesus your treasure, or is the things that Jesus provides your treasure? John Piper has this really stirring, poignant quote.
He says, The critical question of this generation for every generation is this If you could have heaven with no sickness and with all the friends you could ever have on earth and all the food you ever liked and all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed and all the natural beauties you ever saw and all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, and no human conflict and any natural or any natural disaster could you be satisfied, and this is the main point, if Christ were not there?
He goes on to say, the gospel is not how people get to heaven. The gospel is how people get to God. And if you would be happy in heaven, if God, if Jesus were not there, you will not be there. I’m going to say one more time, because that junk, that joke is deep. The gospel is not how you get to heaven. The gospel is how you get to God. And if you would be happy in heaven if Jesus were not there, you will not be there.
Being with God and being with Jesus is the point. Think about maybe this is the reason why Jesus says now this is eternal life, that you get all the pleasures you ever wanted in heaven. No, that they would know you. The only true God and Jesus Christ whom you have sent, Jesus, is not merely the how he is the goal of the Christian life and any worldview that demotes Christ to a method to get what you want is not Christianity.
It’s actually a phony law of attraction nonsense. And you need to be very careful of it and we need to be cautious of it. And I need to be cautious of it in the moments where I slip into it. That’s our first worldview. Let’s look at the father’s response and we’ll get to our second one. I’ll try to speed through the rest of this. Luke chapter 15, verse 20. So he got up and he went to his father.
But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him, was filled with compassion for him. He ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. The son said, Father, I’ve sinned against heaven, against you. I’m no longer worthy to be called your son. But the father said to the servants quick, he’s not even listening. Who cares about your apology? Bring the best robe and put it on him.
Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet, bring a fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate for the son of mine who was dead and is alive again. He was lost and found, so they began to celebrate. The son doesn’t expect a warm welcome. He expects judgment. And there’s a thing called the Jerusalem Talmud. And in it they talked about the punishment for a boy who loses his father’s inheritance.
There’s a thing called a Kensia ceremony. Violators would be placed in front of the community and they would break a jar of of cooked rice and it would fall upon them and they would yell out, everyone in the community would yell out, you know, so-and-so, a younger son, you are cut off from your people. You’re cut off from your people. This is what the son is assuming is going to happen. This is what he thinks is going to happen, this public disgrace.
But instead, the father steals the show. And so much so much has been said about the amazing love of the father. It’s absolutely beautiful. I mean, he is the star. He is the star. I don’t have time to talk about this amazing response. I encourage you to study it out yourself. But, man, it’s just yeah, he’s just amazing. What God does here is just absolutely spectacular to a son that really hasn’t made his whole life right yet.
But there really is something interesting brewing. And it’s with the older son. Verse twenty five. Meanwhile. The older son was in the field when he came to the house. He heard the music and the dancing and he called one of the servants and he asked him, what’s going on? Your brother has come, he replied. The father has killed the fattened calf because he has he has him back safe and sound. The older brother became angry and refused to go in.
If the first son is a consumer, the second son, I would say, is an employee. He’s an employee, I’m gonna explain why that’s so bad in just a second, but let’s keep reading. So his father went out and pleaded with him, but he answered his father, look, all these years I have been slaving for you and and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could go celebrate with my friends.
But when this son of yours has squandered your property on prostitutes, you kill the fattened calf. What does he say? All these years I have strived for you. I have given you. I’ve worked. I have. I’ve given you my whole life. He is self-righteous, as self-righteous as they get. He again is an employee. His attitude is that he deserves something from from his father for all the labor that he put in. Look how good I have been.
You you you care about your younger son. You don’t care about me because you don’t give me anything. Look what I’ve done. Every day I obeyed you and every day I worked for you. I’ve done it right. I’ve sat in judgment of everybody, but I’ve done it right. He’s talking about the Pharisees, obviously, and I think he’s talking about a lot of us. His son, this son, expects a reward for his obedience, as a matter of fact, he demands it.
He is self-righteous, he’s a Pharisee, and here’s an important point, just like the younger son, the older son is not interested in the father at all. He’s only interested in the father’s stuff. Where’s my party? I have done what was right. I did it where where is my calf? He goes about getting with the father or getting his father stuff just in a different way. One goes about it, the rebellion, the other goes about it through obedience, but they’re essentially the same people.
One goes, well, you know, if I go away, if I leave God, I could do whatever I want. The other one says, if I stay here, God will give me whatever I want. Both viewpoints, you know what is socially unacceptable, one has become very socially applauded. But neither one actually wants the father. Skye Jethani in his book says they’re both jerks. I like that. And I figured if I quoted it that I could say the word jerk.
So there you go. They don’t want the father. They just want his stuff. The older son thinks his way of viewing the world is right. He thinks the father is his boss and he’s an employee. If he works hard enough, he obeys, if he’s radical enough, the father will have to give him what he deserves. He sits in judgment of the father’s kindness. And I just think about the way in my own life where I’ve felt exactly the same way.
God, I’ve been coming to this church for however long and you have blessed them and they just got here. I’ve been obedient. They haven’t been obedient. Why are you blessing them and not blessing me? There’s a thought that you deserve something. I deserve to be married. I deserve to have children. I deserve to have a happy, happy husband or happy wife. I deserve for my life to be taken. I don’t deserve to be sick.
I’ve been righteous for all these years. I deserve that God would do good things of my marriage. I come to church every single week. I deserve it. I deserve it. I deserve it. I deserve it. And here’s what concerns me. You know, Christian consumerism is a plague in the Western church. It’s actually a significant problem. But what concerns me is that the solution often offered to Christian consumerism is actually worse than the problem. What we do is we take younger sons and we make them into older sons. Don’t go out there hoping that God will give you something, come in here and God will give you something. What are we talking about? Don’t, you know, don’t try to get what you want, don’t try to get married by living in the world, trying to get married by being in the church. How what are we talking about? The point of Christianity, the goal of Christianity isn’t to get married, it isn’t to have the goal of Christianity is Jesus himself.
So we take younger sons and make them older sons and newsflash, the only thing the older son deserves and the only thing you deserve is death. You are and I am a wretched sinner. There is nothing good about you. Romans Chapter three. No one is good except God alone. All of our hands are stained with blood and you want to hear what our wages are. You all know the verse. The wage of our sin is death. The gift of God is eternal life, but the wage of our sin is death.
You have no right to believe that you have worked so hard to compel God to give you anything. See, the issue with the older son isn’t that he obeyed, we should obey. The issue is that the older son thought that when he obeyed, he would then get God’s stuff and he didn’t care about God himself. There’s still an assumption at the point of Christianity is getting something from God. See this is what’s terrifying about this is that there is a, I’m just going to show you this verse its the scariest verse in what I believe to be the whole Bible.
This is yeah let me just read it. Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven. But only the one who does the will of my father, who who is in heaven, many will say to me on that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and drive out demons in your name and in your name, perform any miracles, then I will then I will tell them plainly I never knew you away from me, you evil doers.
Older brothers are utterly convinced that they belong to Jesus because they have done what is right. And Jesus will look at some of us and say, I never knew you. Guys, just you know, it is possible to devote your life to obedience to Christ and actually miss Christ in the process. See, this world view says, I obeyed, I was on the mission, I worked hard, now I deserve something from God. But the scariest words and the scariest passages this on that day, I will say, Lord, I did this and Lord I did that for you.
And Lord I did this for you and Laura did that for you. And he might look at us and say, I don’t know who you are. See, there’s only this parable only begins to make sense, honestly, it seems a little bit hopeless until this last line kind of works altogether. The younger son squanders his wealth, tries to manipulate his dad. The older son is angry and goes to his father because he’s done everything right. And in verse thirty one the father finally speaks. My son, the father said, you are always with me. And everything I have is yours, but we had to celebrate to be glad because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again. He was lost and is found. Notice the father never acknowledges the son’s obedience. Instead, what does he say, calls them my son. And then he says, you have always been with me. These phrases is when the story begins to make sense, why does the father celebrate when the younger son comes back home?
Oh, it’s because the younger son is coming back to be a son, to be with him. The younger son is coming back. Why does the what is the father say my son? It’s because what God cares most about is that we would posture ourselves not as consumers trying to take from God and not as employees trying to earn our way to God’s graciousness, but instead that we would become sons and daughters. The only posture that makes sense, the only posture that makes sense is to be sons and daughters, sons and daughters.
What if instead we took a fundamentally different approach about the way we view God? Instead of trying to get something from him. What if instead we learn to just want to be with him? To spend time with him, to pray, whatever he gives us, we would be happy with because we’re with our dad. What if that was the way we looked at life and here’s the funny thing, for some of us that’s not even appealing, which tells us we may have a real problem on our hands.
First, John, chapter three, verse one, I love this, see what great love the father has lavished on us that we should be called children of God. And that is what you are, the reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him, dear friends. Now we are children of God and what we will will be has yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him.
You see how you see the way this works. First were with him and then we become like him. Remember practicing the way of Jesus were with him and were like him will be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves just as he is pure. Don’t be a consumer loving God only for his stuff. Don’t be an employee believing that you deserve something from God because your work. Instead be a child.
Realizing that what God wants is to be with you. He wants you to love Him like you would love a dad, he wants to love you, like he would love a child, he just wants you to be with him, to be beside him. Certainly you obey him like you would obey your mom or your dad, but you do it because he’s your mom or your dad, not because he’s your boss. And next week, you know, I want to talk about how this world view affects the way we view people, because it doesn’t only affect the way we view God, it really messes up our viewpoint of the people in his community.
But for now, I just want you to sit with this thought. I don’t have any, like, cool ending. Instead, I’m just going to kind of walk off the stage. And what I’m going to do is I’m going to ask you to just pray. Maybe reflect on who you’ve been and ask God that you would become a child. I’ll ask the worship team to come on up. I’m not going to pray for you. Instead, I’m just going to invite you to just pray for yourselves and to yourselves just for a moment of silence.
And and hopefully our brains will begin to shift away or we’ll be able to acknowledge the things that have made us into people that we shouldn’t be. I love you church.