Grace can be an offensive topic. Of course, we all want to believe that grace is an honorable attribute, and that like Christ, we show grace. But what about when grace doesn’t benefit us?
My latest pondering about this has been the prodigal son story. No one ever really talks about the prodigal son’s brother. Not really anyway. I’ve heard many moving descriptions of how the father watches down the road, his eyes welling with tears as he runs down the road to greet the son. The music swells as father throws his arm around the son, proclaiming, “My son’s come home again.” The servants arrive, bringing the scarlet robe and ring and then we see all the guests have arrived, but lurking in the shadows there is a dark figure….
I grew up over churched. We went to a small non-denominational church. At the time, our church had a Christian school that I attended up until high school. I went to Christian school five days a week, and then church on Sunday, and sometimes midweek events. If I learned anything during this childhood, it was that God blesses those who are obedient, and does not bless those who are not. I learned not to associate with children in their wayward deeds, because this does not please God. I tried very hard to be a good little girl, and being a quite shy one anyway, this was not hard.
On through my teens, I listened to my youth pastors who vehemently proclaimed abstinence, and many other approaches to modern relationships. (They have since recanted some other their teachings, admitting that maybe there are other approaches than kissing dating goodbye).
Through high school I shunned drugs, alcohol and partying, because I knew that God would not be pleased. I went to a Christian college, and much can be said about ethics in Christian colleges. Sure, I thought it might have been fun to out drinking with the girls down the hall. But I didn’t, because I knew God would not be pleased.
Now into my adulthood, I look at those girls, and others along the way, and they are much more successful and in many ways happier than me. I am left to wonder why I chose the narrow road, when the broad path that leads to destruction, is quickly remedied by grace. Promiscuous teenage girls have repented and are now successful women with wonderful husbands, while I am left single. Slacker students in high school, found their niche and now own their own businesses, while I struggle to make a buck.
God is free to dispense grace where he sees appropriate, and I dare not question the wisdom of the Almighty. But, from down here, it so often seems unfair. No one ever talks about the prodigal son’s brother. Isn’t it time we do?