Getting Personal With Christianity: The Good Son
Just in case there are any wonder-ers as I am sure there are, this is not regarding the movie advertised to the right.
The Good Son was a good movie, by the way. I do not suggest it for kids even though Macaulay Culkin is in it. This movie is definitely not like Home Alone!
Okay, enough with the movie plugs and into the meat!
One night while my mother-in-law visited, my family had a Family Home Evening or FHE.
For those of you who may be not familiar with this phenom, millions of Latter-day Saint Christians or Mormons have an official church meeting in their homes once a week for family time and gospel instruction called the FHE.
The leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints set aside Monday nights for this meeting which is led by the parents or guardians in each LDS Christian home. Since my family is a bit off with everything at times, we held our meeting on a Tuesday. That's beside the point.
The point is we were having FHE with my mother-in-law and we each took turns describing paintings that had depictions of Bible Stories.
I was in a foul mood, but I went through my story about The Good Samaritan and there was brief discussion about the impropriety of a castaway such as a Samaritan helping a Jew and how it compared to today's society--who would be the Jew and who would be the Good Samaritan.
A few others took turns describing various stories and showing paintings. My oldest son's Bible story was about the Prodigal Son. He gave a lackluster summary of the story I will save you the drama of repeating, but it had a profound impact on the meeting, on me!
The King James approved version of the Prodigal Son following:
...A certain man had two sons:
And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living.
And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.
And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want.
And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.
And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.
And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!
I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee,
And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.
And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.
And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.
But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:
And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry:
For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.
Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing.
And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant.
And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound.
And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and entreated him.
And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends:
But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.
And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.
It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.
Fatted Calf Party!!!
After much reason, we came to a consensus that the steady son, the good son was upset that he did not get a party. The father explained to him that he, the good son, has all that there is from the father, but the other son has returned from the world and should be celebrated.
Any time a person returns from being lost it should be a celebration. The good son was never lost. He did not get a party because he was never lost. He never lost sight of his inheritance....
We decided that we were all prodigal sons returning to God. All except my mother-in-law seemed happy about the discussion.
She said, "Look. I understand that the prodigal son was a sinner and he returned to God; but I been wondering since I was a little girl why didn't the older son get a party!"
She continued, "I can identify with the older son being that I am he oldest in my family. I think he should have a party too. I don't care that he owns everything. He didn't get a party!'
We all started laughing, but we seriously thought about what she said. I thought the Good son should have gotten a party too; I just never voiced it.
Mom was brave for sharing her feelings about a set of verses that she had not really come to terms with for years. She voiced it and found that it is fine to have a question about what you believe.
It does not mean that you are falling away from God to question verses in the Bible that you don't understand.
We were all laughing when I promised Mom that we would have a party for the Good Son the next week since she was flying back to her home.
Rev. Frederick Francis Bosworth
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf
The Bigger Point
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, a member of the presiding council of The Church of Jesus Chris of Latter-day Saints, made a profound statement when he perpetuated the teaching of Fred Francis Bosworth from his 1924 book entitled Christ The Healer.
President Uchtdorf instructs:
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters—my dear friends—please, first doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith.
Speaking in earnest to Christians who may have lost their way because of an unkind word or a misunderstood or hurtful teaching President Uchtdorf continues:
We must never allow doubt to hold us prisoner and keep us from the divine love, peace, and gifts that come through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
My mother-in-law never allowed this doubt about the scriptures regarding the Good Son to fester, but there is a possibility that some of you have allowed certain things to "bother" you and keep you from your full potential of happiness.
As good Christians or good people of any faith, we should not allow anything to take away our joy in the things that we feel and know to be true. It is a distraction.
The point is: When doubts arise, question them! Your faith has been there much longer than one doubt.
If your doubts are found to be warranted, pray about it and allow God to direct your paths, while still practicing your faith in Jesus Christ.
The next time you, as the good son, or the good daughter find that you are in a position where you feel like someone else is getting the blessings from God that you feel like you should be getting as a life-long Christian, remember that you have been at the table of the Lord and reaping the rewards your entire life!
You might not get a party, but what you have received in life-blessings equates to hundreds of parties. You just need to count your blessing and number them to see.
I did. It works too!
I still threw a party for the Good Son!
It made my mother-in-law satisfied, tongue-in-cheek!
Which of the characters do you identify with most in the parable?
Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard
Many times when we read the scriptures we focus on the traditional characters in parables. Parables are not meant to be taken to extremes as I did with the Prodigal Son.
That parable is about a lost soul returning to God and receiving the same blessing as all the other faithful followers. It is not about getting fair wages or about who served the longest.
When we try to understand spiritual things with temporal understanding it is foolishness.
Parable of the workers in the Field
Parables are meant to teach principles using common understanding of things. In Jesus's day, it was common knowledge that landowners hired out for labor and paid them for their work accordingly.
Jesus wanted to impress upon the minds of people that God is a rewarder of all them who follow Him no matter when they begin; the promise to them is the same as it was to the first.
For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard.
And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard.
And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace,
And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way.
Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise.
And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle?
They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive.
So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first.
And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny.
But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny.
And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house,
Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day.
But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny?Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee.
Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?
So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.
What do you Think?
How do you feel knowing God will give everyone the same reward who He deems worthy?
How fair is that!?
How is it fair that the people who worked only an hour can have the same pay as those who worked the entire day!?
Or, should I say:
How fair is it for a Christian who has only practiced for one year to get the same salvation as those practicing for 20 years?
The householder, God, promised the first field-hands, Adam and Eve, a penny, salvation from death and eternal life, if they worked in the field, followed Jesus Christ and His teachings.
The householder, God, promised each following group field-hands, all of us, a penny, salvation from death and eternal life, if they worked in the field, followed Jesus Christ and his teachings.
Whether we deserve it our not, God will give us the same salvation as the first people if we will do His will. He is fair to all His children, not fair temporally, but ultimately.
To any person who was not ready to follow His teaching, the parable would be nothing of great measure. To those ready to follow Him and understand His words the parable was a promise. ...one that would give every person a chance to inherit eternal life.
Looking at the parable from a spiritual perspective takes away the appearance of inequity.
I know that if I worked for 8 hours at the same job as another person who worked only one and received the same pay I would not feel like it was fair. That is a worldly view of things.
...good thing we have heaven's view!
- Scripture is not to be limited to temporal terms when we apply it to our daily lives because if the cultural reference was written long ago, it does not work well in many modern instances--i.e. most of us are not fishers or farmers, etc.
- Parables are timeless, but their temporal application may not be practical. Spiritual application brings insights.
- Just because we do not comprehend something--a teaching or parable--does not mean we question everything! Strengthen the things you already know and call upon the Lord for understanding and patients until He gives that extra knowledge.
© 2015 Rodric Johnson