What We Are About

As Prodigals, we believe God has called us to fulfill our Mission and Vision so that others can find hope. What is a “prodigal?” In Luke 15:11-32, we find the parable that is normally called “The Prodigal Son.” But this may not be what Jesus intended when He spoke the parable. Consider this definition of what the word prodigal means, found in Webster’s dictionary: Spending money or resources freely and recklessly; wastefully extravagant. As we look at this definition in the context of the story, we can see that it can be applied to both the second son and his father. The second son took what is usually called an inheritance and spent it on what was the ancient equivalent of wine, women and song – he wasted it extravagantly and fell into ruin in a very real way. His internal and external life was in the pit of destruction. The father wasted his resources on his second son, knowing that it would be used for immoral purposes. This was the father’s choice. When his son returned, look at how the father reacted, but also consider the audience when Jesus related this story. His audience was a group of condescending self-righteous religious leaders, those who viewed themselves above all others. When his son returned, the father:

  • Lifted his robe, so he could run to his son. A mature Jewish man, especially a leader of Israel, would never let anyone see his legs, nor would they ever run; it was beneath them. Yet, this father did.
  • Ran and embraced and kissed the second son who was filthy, in rags, and smelled like a pig. It was the equivalent of us running to a someone who is unwanted and smelled of the streets. Would we recklessly embrace them and hold them close?
  • Called for the best robe to clothe this wayward son in honor. It was probably his own best robe, fit for a master. The father lifted his son to a high place, without consideration of the son’s story that was full of shame and guilt.
  • Placed the family ring on his son’s hand and shoes on his feet. He gave his son his heirship back with the ring, and elevated the young man to a high social status by putting shoes on his feet when so many people didn’t have shoes in that culture.
  • Ordered a celebration, threw a big party, like had never been seen before, to spread the joy at having his son back. He was lavish, extravagant and killed the fatted calf, the calf that had been kept and nurtured for the most special of occasions.

In this parable, the father is a representation of God. The son represents all of us who have struggled in life because of things we have chosen to do, things that other chose to do to us, or things the world has done to us. Could it be that the real prodigal, the real wasteful and extravagant one is the father in the story? And could it be that God wants us to understand that, so that we can call ourselves sons and daughters of the Most High Prodigal God? If this is so, we can call ourselves the prodigals. Won’t you join us in this community of hope?