Sunday, March 14, 2010

More Than Enough

Fourth Sunday in Lent
March 14, 2010
Luke 15:1-3, 11-32

How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough…

With God it’s never just enough. There’s always more than enough. He doesn’t give to us only so that we can just get by. He doesn’t invite us to pick and choose from His blessings but to receive all the vaults of His glory and gifts.

Maybe it’s only when we come to our senses that we begin to see that more than enough is better than what we have. Maybe it’s only when we’ve hit rock bottom that we come to realize that a little from God is manifold wealth compared to what we have on our own.

The son who wanted more than he could ever dream of lost it all. The funny thing is he had already had more than he could ever imagine, he just didn’t realize it. On his own he lost it all and now saw that he had nothing.

With nothing he also saw that his father’s servants had more than enough. They in fact had it made compared to him. They in fact had it better than he had ever realized they had when he was living in the palatial estate of his father.

He no longer deserved to live as a son but he’d have it made as a servant. It’s amazing how differently you understand things when you see them from a different perspective. Maybe God knows what He’s talking about when He tells us we have nothing without Him. We just don’t see it until we see it from a different perspective.

So let’s try seeing it from a different perspective. Let’s look at our lives through the eyes of that young brat, um, I mean the young son of the fabulously wealthy father.

He decided that enough was enough and needed to strike out on his own. If anything, his pop was holding him back. He needed adventure. Thrills. Freedom.

He didn’t need his dad. He needed his money though, so Dad, just give me my inheritance and I’ll be on my way. I want what’s mine, so just give it to me early and I’ll be out of your hair.

What this young punk walked away with was a lot of money that you and I would say, that guy’s got it made. He has more than he’ll ever need. He’s set for the rest of his life. People may wonder, how much was it? It doesn’t matter. It was more than this young punk knew what to do with. How many times have we heard of fabulously wealthy people who ended up losing it all because they couldn’t control their money and their desires?

So when this young dude lost it all he realized not only how much he had had when he was living with pop, but how much his father’s servants had living with pop. Now this young man had perspective. Now he had wisdom. Now he had come to his senses. He realized what his father had realized all along: that he was nothing without his father. That doesn’t mean that his father was going to keep him holed up in his mansion his whole life. It meant that his father would provide for him for all that he needed. He would raise him, care for him, love him.

But this also meant he would let him go if his son wanted to be let go. It’s only when the boy was out on his own that he realized he needed his father. Even if his father would now be his master, and he his father’s servant. He’d still have it made. He’d be living in the lap of luxury because he would be benefitting from his father’s generous portions to all who were part of the estate, family and servants alike.

There’s another perspective we should see also, and that is the father’s perspective in the first place. He knew what his young son didn’t know. He knew that his son had more than he could ever hope for or imagine but took it for granted. But he didn’t force it upon his son. He simply gave it to him and let him go if that was his desire.

The father’s love is so great that it never forces itself upon someone else. Even someone he loves so deeply as his own son. This is the true and abiding love the father has for his son. It doesn’t keep tabs. It is not only fabulously wealthy but manifestly generous. The father is merciful to his son, welcoming him back in a heartbeat. He won’t have any of his son’s talk of being a servant. He’s his son. All that he has he gives to his son.

It’s at this point that one lesson has been learned. It was learned the hard way, but it was learned. But it’s at this very point that the very same lesson is not learned by another person. He’s also a son. The older son of the father can’t get his head around what just happened. He’s having a hard time subduing his bitterness.

I’ve been here all along. I’ve toiled and slaved. I’ve been faithful to you and have given you my best, and this pathetic excuse for a brother runs off to throw away all your hard-earned money. And what does he get for it? A huge party! He gets off scot-free. He’s back in the household as if he’d never left. He’s back as if he were the one who gave you the best years of his young life when in fact he hardly did any work around here at all. It’s me who should be getting the glory.

Sadly, it’s the older brother who doesn’t see at all who is father is, what he, as his father’s son, has. He does not see things from the perspective of his younger brother because he hasn’t seen the other side. He sees only himself and what he brings to the table rather than the love and wealth his father lavishes on him. What does his father say to him? “Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours.” The younger brother finally realized that his father’s servants had more than enough and now their father was trying to exhort his older son to see that, Son, all that is mine is yours.

But what did the older brother want? A goat. He wanted a party. He wanted his father to treat him to some nice gestures of reward for the hard work and labor he had provided for his father. But nope, nothing. The younger brother gets it all. And for what? For blowing all his dad’s money on fun and adventure. The younger brother realized that even the servants had more than enough whereas the older brother can’t even see that he already has more than he could ever imagine or hope for. He doesn’t see that a little party for him and his friends doesn’t compare to all that His father has provided him.

He doesn’t see that his father is not content to give just enough. Or not even just more than enough. It has to be everything. He gives it all. All that is mine is yours.

And if you and I haven’t yet seen the way God sees us from His perspective then take one more look. We haven’t talked about Him yet, but He’s there in the Gospel reading. He’s the one telling the parable. Jesus embodies the words the father speaks in the parable: “all that is Mine is yours.” What is God the Father’s is His own Son. And He gives Him to us. The Father gives His own Son so that we may have more than just enough. More than even just more than enough. More than we could ever imagine. More than we could ever hope for. More than we could ask for and certainly more than we deserve.

The incomparable love God has for His Son is love that shines through even when He gives His own Son over; Jesus becoming destitute; wallowing in the slop of our sin and guilt; hitting rock bottom, weighted down with the punishment we deserve; suffering on the cross so that we may enjoy the palatial estates of heaven for eternity.

You are with God the Father forever. You are His sons and daughters. All that He has is yours. What He gives you is never just enough. It’s always more than enough. All that is His is yours. Now you know what Jesus means when He says, “I have come that they may have life and have it abundantly.” Amen.


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