Don’t answer… check out this list of um… adjectives…
Wasteful, reckless, dissolute, profligate, uncontrolled, spendthrift, squanderer, self-indulgent, immoral, and debauched.
Take those words, especially debauched, dissolute and profligate (my personal favorites) and line them up with this picture.
The picture is “The Return of the Prodigal Son” by Rembrandt.
In all honesty being a prodigal looks a little more like this… With my apologies to Zac Efron… (I guess that is this guys name) a prodigal is a fast living low life that cares only for self… notice I didn’t say himself… this adjective knows no gender.
Why the confusion with this word? I think it is because of the out come of the story. In the love of God and the example of Christ, we have almost turned the word prodigal into a nice word.
The point of this story is in fact not the prodigal, well at least primarily. I would venture to guess that at various times in your life as in mine, we have been the prodigal son, the party animal friends hanging on as long as the good times last, the older brother who gets bent out of shape and in our best moments we have been the father waiting with open arms and running out to grab in a loving embrace those who have sinned against us even when they were far off.
We play these roles not only in family. It happens at work, it happens in politics. Tony Campolo talked about it in his recent blog entry. When he referenced the current grumblings about the economic programs offered by our president toward those who seemingly prodigally loaned money to people who couldn’t pay it back!
As I mentioned before often when something goes wrong and we are harmed or some how damaged, we want our pound of flesh. But into this world Jesus tells us “Go and learn what this means, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” (Matt. 9:13)
When I searched google images for prodigal I found no examples of slime balls, of high rollers or playa’s, instead I found images like the Rembrandt above and this one.
I think this is a good thing. For when we think of prodigal God’s forgiveness and reconnection go hand in hand. As we pray Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us, we know there is a comfort there, and while we may trespass into areas we don’t belong, God is waiting for us to return and while we are far off he reaches out in love for you and me. Lord may we continue to grow in love and forgiveness even as we become what we already are in Jesus Christ.