All that I have is thine.
June 21, 2013
You may recognize that as the words of the father to his elder child in Jesus’ parable of the Prodigal Son. (Luke 15:11-32) And although he didn’t use those words with the younger, his actions said as much: he gave him half his estate without question, and fully restored him with all the family perks when he returned.
It’s pretty commonly accepted that the father in this parable represents God. And between the two sons, many of the negative traits of humanity are clearly put forth: pride, greed, jealousy, sensuality, dishonesty, disrespect, anger, and on and on… Yet the message is, it doesn’t matter what stupid or unkind things you have done, my kingdom and all its benefits are always yours. You can’t leave it or be kicked out of it. You don’t have to earn it or prove your way into it. You just have to accept it and realize that you are an heir. And then act like it!
What does that mean? The elder son actually had some heir characteristics already: he was a good steward of his father’s land and was careful with its assets. And after the Prodigal “came to himself” he took on the qualities of humility and persistence. A true heir follows in the footsteps of his father: he emulates the consideration and authority, while also accepting the responsibility and requirements that go along with the job.
The Apostle Paul says, “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ.” (Rom 8:16,17) Paul is proclaiming that each one of us is a an heir, even a joint-heir with Christ, of our dear heavenly Father. That is an amazing position of stature, one which we must claim and then behave accordingly.
One last point: doesn’t this story of the Prodigal Son, in which both wayward children are dearly loved and included regardless of their actions, completely contradict the story of Adam and Eve getting kicked out of the garden? Doesn’t the inclusive tenderness of the father in the parable totally reverse the arbitrary insistence of the Lord God in Eden? Think about it: Jesus knew God so well – so intimately – that he called him Abba, daddy. Would he have shared this parable with his followers – this story that gives a new view of God, if that new view was wrong?
Jesus presented his Father, your Father, my Father as the only Father, the only God. The one who says to all of us all the time, “all that I have is thine.” Isn’t it worth considering what that really means?
Melissa Hayden is a Christian Science practitioner in Salem, OR. You can find more information and additional articles at this link. If you like what you’re reading, click the “add me” button.