A few weeks ago, I preached at my home church, Gracepoint. The sermon was entitled “Extravagant Love” and was about the parable of the ‘prodigal son’. In fact, the parable is about the older brother, and how he refuses to accept the return of his younger brother. Jesus told the parable in response to the interactions he had with the religious leaders of the day who were wondering why he was fraternising with sinners and unclean people.
The point for us today is that we should actively welcome into our churches those who could potentially bring disgrace on our family name, those we consider disgusting and sinful, and those who have been far away from us. This is a tough message for us, but one Jesus was clear on: he was a ‘friend of sinners’. Are we?
When we look at the story through Middle Eastern eyes, we see a story of extravagant love and a strong call to change how we think about church today.