Luke 15:17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!'”
Rebellion against God is indeed a form of insanity. When we turn our hearts to God and accept His offer of life, everything changes. As this famous parable shows, life in rebellion is enjoyable only for a brief time, because we have cut ourselves off from the Source. It took time, but this son woke up from the insanity of rebellion and realized that his father’s house was the place of provision. The problem is, so many people don’t realize they are starving, much less that their heavenly Father is waiting for them to come to Him. That defines the task of the evangelist: helping people see both their need and God’s supply. Assorted things get in the way of that. First of all there is pride, a fierce desire to be in control. That is certainly demonstrated in this story. Sadly, many people don’t realize what a mess they’ve made of things, because their perception of what is good is so distorted. That actually is the second big hindrance to people turning to God: they don’t grasp how much better things could be than what they are experiencing. People who have never experienced it can’t really imagine the joy and peace of intimate fellowship with God. I will never forget the testimony of a man I baptized in his late 70s, who said in his confession of faith, “I really don’t know what I was doing before now.” He had lived what the people around him considered an admirable, upright life, but when he discovered the Savior, everything else faded to a blur. Like the Prodigal Son he came to his senses, and rejoiced indeed.
As I shared in the service yesterday, I spent time away from my Father’s house myself, all the time not realizing what I was doing. I thought I was still safely at home! God’s grace, amazingly enough, was sufficient, and I did come to my senses. However, as a pastor in Japan I am surrounded by people who don’t really know the Father exists, much less that He loves them and wants them to come to Him to receive life. The perception that Christianity is a foreign religion is still very strong, and people fear becoming “un-Japanese.” The spiritual blindness is truly oppressive, but I serve a God who can open blind eyes, and that is to be my prayer. Like the older brother in the Lord I mentioned earlier, people can encounter Christ at any age, and I am never to give up. I cannot save anyone by my own strength or wisdom, but I can and must be available to God for Him to use me to draw as many as will come to Him.
Father, thank You for all You are continuing to do in this church. Lots of unexpected things happen, some of which seem good at the time and some not. Help me trust You fully, to be obedient to You completely, being anxious for nothing but walking in Your peace, love, and joy, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!