This past weekend at LifePoint Church (http://lifepointchurch.us) we sat under the teaching of Rev. Timothy Keller (Sr. Pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church, NYC). We watched his 2009 talk that the Willow Creek Leadership Summit on the topic “A Prodigal God” taken from Luke 15. It is a shocking refreshing look at this parable and a prescription for renewal in the local church.
What Keller shares is that the parable is just as much about the older brother as the younger one. He states that we have mis-used the concept of the word “prodigal”. The original concept is not of waywardness, but of extravagant love. The parable was shared with the Pharisees as a point to them. So them being the older brothers the story focuses on them.
Keller states that there are two ways to become your own god. One is by being very very bad and the other is by being very very good. The Pharisees (older brothers) were choosing the latter. Many of us in the church choose the latter. He lays out how the older brothers respond to things like disappointed, anger, prayer and criticism.
There is a third way however. That way is believing in the gospel. It’s not how good we can be to receive God’s favor, but because of God’s favor we want to be good in pleasing Him. So instead of being very very bad or very very good, what we need to do is believe the gospel.
He gives us two things we need to do:
- We need to repent for the reasons for the good things we have done. We have done good things to get what we want from God and that’s wrong.
- This leads us to a new level of rejoicing in what God has done for us. You see, we have an older Brother who gave His life for us. That should lead to great rejoicing.
I am not giving this the due it deserves. I would encourage you to go to the Willow Creek Association website and purchase at least the CD and listen to it. I have included a link here http://www.willowcreek.com/wca_prodsb.aspinvtid=PR34418
There is also a book Tim has written titled A Prodigal God there is a study guide to go along with it. Several groups at LifePoint are going through the study. I am going to ask our community group if we want to study the book.
That’s this leader’s view.