My January/February Exodus IMPACT Article:
We recently ran into a childhood friend of Leslie’s that told us about his 16 year old prodigal son who has been reeling from the death of his older brother 4 years ago. He is ticked off at God for not answering his prayers to save that brother. Listening to hurting parents, sometimes our first inclination is to focus on them, which is important. Parents do endure a lot of pain and hardship when their kids are troubled. While I absolutely have a soft spot for wounded parents, I dearly love prodigals.
It is my belief that all prodigals are hijacked heroes in
need of our grace and patience mixed with their own determination and humility. Prodigals are amazing people. They are most often individuals with amazing
callings---the children that parents would describe as extraordinary, miracle
children, ones born under difficult circumstances and/or ones who overcame
Bringing it a little closer home, I have never met a person struggling with or involved in homosexuality that was anything less than amazing and so obviously called to strategically impact the world for Christ. When surrendered to Christ, these prodigals change the world! I don’t believe there are parts of the Body of Christ that are more significant than others, but I do believe that there are parts of the Body that are much more influential to the whole body---parts that make the rest of it function properly.
Take the right portion of the brain---the creative, artsy, vocal, visionary and leadership side—I think the Church is sometimes paralyzed or rendered less effective because it is so obviously missing much of its right brain. Certainly the secular world has Christendom beat when it comes to pizzazz, unity, flare, original, exciting, fun and focused. Think for a moment about the gay community, the Hollywood crowd, the music industry; they are amazingly talented and we are mesmerized by their lives. Can you think of as many areas of the Body of Christ that have mesmerized us similarly? I can’t. Sure, there are a handful of churches, groups and people that we are really drawn to---but there isn’t as much in the Church that captivates us like the people and things outside of the church. And look at how splintered we Christ-followers are. Now, look over at the gay community---or take my word for it---there may be disunity behind closed doors but you’d never know it and they get a lot more done than we in the Church do because they are focused on and sold out to the greater goal!
I have long believed that the Devil purposely went after those that he knew were destined to be strategic public influencers: musicians, actors, educators and even preachers. The people who draw the biggest audiences are at the greatest risk. The enemy was very crafty by stealing those who have the loudest voices. He might have left the Church with the hardest workers, the most faithful and hospitable, but without the right brain we are out of balance, out of order and less effective.
As I have learned to look at the prodigals with the Father’s heart, I no longer see the lost as lost but rather missing. They are missing from their callings, their place in the Body and their partnerships with all of us. They are the missing pieces of the puzzle. When I think of gay activists I try to pinpoint what amazing gifts and talents that they have and how those talents could be used in the Body.
Today as I pondered the plight of prodigals in our world I
realized that we in the Church so often resemble the older brother—bitter,
angry, unwelcoming, pious, prideful and arrogant. We are proud of the fact that we are the
one’s that have gotten it right, served the Father, been the steady ones and
angry at the prodigal who seems to be everything that we aren’t. All the while our Father in Heaven is
standing at the gate looking, waiting and expectantly hoping for that first
glimpse of His prodigal making his or her way home. The Father wants the Church to have that same
desire for reconciliation, restoration and unity. He is begging us to open our hearts for the
wayward. He desperately wants our hearts
to beat in concert with His as each beat says, “Souls. Souls. Souls.”
I have a goal this year of focusing my time looking for the
precious in people rather than focusing on the worthless in them. I am going to pray that the missing pieces of
the Body find their way home. I am going
to pray that the Body (right, left, center, evangelical, liturgical, you name
it) becomes unified despite its differences and begins respecting each others
gifts all the while using their gifts to reach the missing.
A few years ago a speaker rocked my world during a pastor’s conference when he said, “God is in love with the homosexual, the drunk, the idolater, the addict.” He was tuned in to the Father’s heart for the prodigal and that made an indelible mark on my heart and brain that will guide me for the rest of my life. I want to be the Father at the gate waiting for the prodigal, poised to run down the road to meet him with open arms and every good gift, rather than the jealous bitter older brother who desires retribution over restoration.
I am praying for your prodigal. I am praying for a mass exodus from slavery and from the wilderness and an overwhelming pilgrimage into the Promised Land. We need the prodigals as much as they need us. Join me as Exodus focuses all its resources on impacting the Church with the message of the Father’s heart for the missing!