11 And he said, “There was a man who had two sons.12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. 13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. 14 And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to[b] one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16 And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.
17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger
photo credit: sciencebuzz.org
We mentioned last week that real repentance can start from hitting rock bottom. There is a real need, a real hunger. There is desperation! This boy might die! He is in a terrible situation. Not only that, he betrayed his family. He ruined his father’s reputation. He wasted his inheritance, and when he returns there is a rival good brother present as well, who will remind everyone even him, of the mess he made.
There are a few things that could be happening on the way home. Maybe he just wants food and he is willing to settle for being a servant in his father’s house. He may never return to full fellowship, but at least he can go back to what he knows and not die. The Prodigal Son now has a terrible self image. He knows he is no longer worthy and he can’t see things ever being like they were ever again.
On the way home he might already be scheming in his heart. I am going to act like I am sorry and just weasel my way back into the house. My father will just forgive me and restore me. After all, this is the kid who wasted his inheritance and decided his father’s name was worth nothing. Unfortunetly, people with addictive risk taking personalities can be quite manipulative. They will manipulate any well meaning person to get what they want. They will even scam their close family, if it feeds there problem, their habit, their egotistical plan. They will diabolically scheme like their life depends on it, because they might truly believe it does.
It doesn’t look like that is what happened with this son. It seems that because he knew the father, and what he was like, he genuinely was probably sorry, hurt and remorseful on the way home. So, when he gets to the father he can say, “I am not worthy to be called your son.” He truly believed that. He experienced the love of the father and he knew the frailty of his own heart. The father raised him. He was with him from birth. He cared for him. He treated him well. The son on the way home was beginning to understand he blew it. He was beginning to get the fact that no one owed him anything, and if you are going to go off on your own with your inheritance from your father, maybe you should respect his name and how you represent it. He was finally coming to himself and realizing that he is not the center of the universe. This is where repentance can begin.
Now here is where I might loose you. There is much talk about addiction and it being a disease. I will agree to a point. It is a disease that is most often self induced. Now some people can become an alcoholic from the first drink and that seems much more unfair than the one who worked at it. Also, some are raised in homes filled with drugs and abuse and that is what the child sees, so that is what they may choose to do later. I understand we are not dealing with even playing fields here.
But, if addiction is completely a disease and it is not a sin to continue in the behavior that is killing you or the people around you, then the gospel is of no help. On that walk home the Prodigal Son needs to be moving towards repentance. Part of AA is making restitution. An addict can’t get out of it without some form of repentance. They have to own their behavior and can’t blame chemicals, upbringing or anything else as the problem. It is important to know what happened to you caused your choices that you made on some level, but your choices before your addiction and after it began are still your choices. You have to start with a heart of repentance towards your heavenly father and remorse towards your friends and family whom you have hurt. If an addict doesn’t start with repentance, they are not starting at all and haven’t hit the bottom.
I will say it again, If addiction is completely a disease, the gospel of no use. If it is not completely just a disease and it is also sin, that means a person can’t get well without repentance. It must be part of the equation. I believe true healing starts and ends with getting our hearts right with Jesus Christ.
Thank you for reading.
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