Getting Clean To Take A Bath – Part II
Luke 15th Chapter
25 "Meanwhile, the older
son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and
asked him what was going on. 27
`Your brother has come,’ he replied, `and your father has killed the fattened
calf because he has him back safe and sound.’ 28
"The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went
out and pleaded with him. 29 But he
answered his father, `Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never
disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could
celebrate with my friends. 30 But
when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes
home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’ 31
" `My son,’ the father said, `you are always with me, and everything I
have is yours. 32 But we had to
celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive
again; he was lost and is found.’ "
About a month ago I had a talk with a young man about him returning to his
church. Just a few months earlier he had been selling and buying drugs, but now
he wanted to go "back home;" however, he felt that he could not. When
I asked him why, he replied, "Man…. My mom has told me of all the talk
she heard those people say, but it’s alright… I’ll be alright." At that
moment, I could see the hurt in this brother’s eyes. He wanted to come home and
get restored. Instead, he felt that this was impossible.
So why would anyone ever feel this way? Some people would say that it’s from
a "misunderstanding of God." However, let’s look at it from another
angle. I think that it’s from a "better understanding of people."
Sure, church folk are quick to say, "God is a forgiving God," which
is true. But the question we ask today is, how forgiving and "forgetting"
are the people of God?
Our text comes from the parable about the prodigal son, but we are going to
shift our focus to his older brother who wasn’t really happy that he came home.
As a matter of fact, the older brother had the following characteristics which
could keep any person from "coming home."
Once the older brother found out that his brother had come home and his father
had chosen to celebrate the event, the 28th verse tells us he became angry and
chose not to go in and celebrate with the family. I can just see that older
brother standing outside the house mad and pouting. This same childish attitude
rears its ugly head in our churches today. When a lost or hurting person comes
to join a church, the self-righteous begin to prophesy their expectations by
stating, "They won’t be here too long. It’s just a matter of time before
he/she falls by the wayside." Then they will say, "but I’m just
telling you like it is." Instead of acting like children trying to raise children,
the people of God should be mature saints, just like the father in this
parable, ready to welcome the child that desires to come home.
Another problem the older brother had was he did not want his brother to have
the best of the best. Even if the older brother HAD to give the returning
brother anything he would have given him the lesser of the greater. I’ll
explain. In the 29th verse the older son told the father, "I’ve been
slaving for you all these years and you never even gave me a young goat (the cheap
meat)." Now in the 27th verse we are told that the father killed the
fattened calf (the good stuff) to celebrate his lost son’s return. What the
older son was really saying is, "Look pops. You know that boy deserves the
‘cheap meat.’ You should have whipped out the bologna or the Vienna sausages to
make him some SAMICHES." Some of God’s people are the same way. They sit
up and roll their eyes when the lost and the sinners come to join the most
powerful army in existence. But instead of celebrating, they’d rather give them
a lesser God, not the same God they serve. If you don’t believe me just look at
how those same people act when God begins to restore the lost sheep. They act
as though God doesn’t have enough blessings to go around, but He does.
There is no need for anyone to covet God. I love the way David puts it in the
23rd Psalm, "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want." David is
telling us that God is sooooo big, He can care for me like I’m the only one
while He cares for the entire flock. Now that’s a BIG GOD!!
This last characteristic is a progression or manifestation of the first two. If
a person continues to have a childish attitude and covetous spirit the result
will be a cold heart towards his/her brothers and sisters in need. Of course a
cold heart is in essence hatred. When we look at the 30th verse we see that the
older brother (blood brother) does not even recognize the younger as his
brother. He states to his father, "this son of yours," not "my
brother." The older brother at this point laid down the gauntlet and let
it be known that he was not in favor of the restoration of his younger brother.
This is where we really need to be careful because we become three things (a
burden, a yoke and a weapon) to the progress of God. Isaiah 10:27 tells us that
the anointing of God removes burdens and destroys yokes. Therefore, if you
position yourself to be a burden or a yoke, you may find yourself removed or
destroyed. Also, Isaiah 54:17 tells us that no weapon formed against the
children of God shall prosper. Now here is a deep revelation for you. If a
person goes to church but is always a hindrance to its progress, will that
person prosper? You’d better believe they won’t!!! Yes, I know the word tells
us that the weapon won’t prosper against the progress of God, but if that
weapon is a person then that person can not prosper by God’s hand either. Just
because a person has a truck-load of money doesn’t mean he/she have godly
prosperity. God wants us to have the complete package. He wants us to have
health and wealth, but you can’t have it all if you are a weapon forming
against His will. Therefore, don’t be a yoke, don’t be a burden and definitely
don’t be a weapon.
Now after all of this ask yourselves, "What if the prodigal son would
have been met by the older brother instead of his father?" Well, the first
thing he would have gotten from big brother was an "ear full" of why
he’s not worthy to come home. This probably would have made the son in the
parable feel the same way as the young man I mentioned earlier. He would have
felt an "unworthiness" to come home, and this surely would not have
helped the situation. At that point, he may have turned back around and headed
back into the world to stay lost.
The final question we leave you with is this, "Are you the reason
someone feels he/she has to get clean to take the bath that Jesus has prepared
for ALL OF US?" I know that we are quick to say, "No!! Not Me!!"
(The writer of this message included!!!) But let’s take a look into the mirror
to see that person in the reflection. Does that person welcome the stranger to
his/her church with open arms? Does that person pray that the lost come to
his/her church to get to know Jesus? Did that person shake the hand of the
homeless man/woman who visited the church a few Sundays ago but never returned?
You are about to receive a word that makes you more accountable than you
want to be. Here it is. By sitting on your pew and doing nothing, you are
weapon formed against the body of Christ. By not welcoming those seeking
Christ, you are a weapon formed against the body of Christ.
This is what the Lord says: "If I would not have welcomed you when you
came to me, how would you have felt. This is the same feeling that my lost
children feel after leaving my house, and it is a stench in my nostrils. I
demand that my children welcome my lost sheep with my love. You can not say you
love me and not love your brothers. Welcome my lost sheep and I will not forget
your labor of love."
Time is winding down. It’s up to us to begin harvesting the souls and
welcoming home our lost brothers and sisters. Love them with all of God’s love
and welcome them openly so that they can get cleansed by the Blood of Jesus.