The Message translation of Galatians 6:7-8 reads like this, “Don’t be misled: No one makes a fool of God. What a person plants, he will harvest. The person who plants selfishness, ignoring the needs of others—ignoring God!—harvests a crop of weeds. All he’ll have to show for his life is weeds!
What we say, and how we behave matters. It mattered 2000 years ago as well. Apparently Paul, the writer of this letter, was concerned about bitterness, rage, anger, brawling, slander and malice, all within the church! He said, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit.”
We tend to put more energy into starting and building relationships than we do in maintaining them. We present our best selves in the beginning. But as time goes on, we push the boundaries of what is acceptable.
God called Nehemiah to rebuild Jerusalem’s wall. Nehemiah, however, knew he could not take on such a prodigious task alone. This chapter of Nehemiah lists over 40 different groups of people who helped to bring the wall to completion. If you’ve ever seen this wall, you understand how big it is and how important it was to have so many people working collectively.
Baseball player and manager, Casey Stengel once said, “It’s easy to get good players. Getting’ em to play together, that’s the hard part.” If you’ve ever been part of a team or managed a team, you know how true this is.
This passage provides the basis for a doctrine called the “priesthood of all believers.” Christians and non-Christians alike often think that God considers some workers more valuable than others, some professions more “called” than others. Pastors, priests, missionaries and other spiritual vocations are often seen as more important.
Peter and John were preaching to the crowds. They were filled with the Holy Spirit and not afraid to speak boldly. They were spreading the good news daily and even though they were arrested, they continued to preach and claim their faith. Because of this, the numbers of Christ followers continued to grow dramatically.
There are many definitions of “love,” different kinds of love, and ways of expressing love. It is a big word, with far-reaching implications. But my current favorite definition is this: Love is seeing the Divine in another, and recognizing that the same is in you. In other words, it’s seeing God in another person, and knowing God is also in you.
Verses 9–11 offer a test of the love commandment John speaks of. He uses the examples of a person who loves and a person who hates. Two extremes with no middle ground. And John would say, "If you don't love, you are in the class with haters.”
The last character we need to remember in this story is the elder brother. He is the one who never left home. Some might say Jesus is being unfair to him. He stayed home, took care of business, earned his keep, and his place at the table.
We know that the father in this parable is God. What a joy to see how God welcomes us prodigals! God doesn’t even wait until we get to the door. God doesn’t stand with arms crossed ready to say, “I told you so.” We aren’t required to earn our grace. There is no demand that we pay back what is lost.
Let’s celebrate! As the old phrase says, “Let’s put the big pot in the little one.” We are home. That is how I felt when I came home from graduating from Texas A&M. My life had been that of the prodigal.
I want to invite you to look at the characters of this story, the Prodigal Son. A prodigal is one who wastes what he has. We know that the younger son wasted his wealth on things that didn’t matter. He wasted it on things and people who could not satisfy his yearning.
Jesus, as he often did, answers the Pharisees and scribes’ grumbling (grumbling isn’t new to the family of God) with a non- confrontational story. Look at the stories from end to beginning. Yes, read the end first, “…joy in heaven…”,
Where is our home? Is home the house we live in, the place where we grew up, the place where our family of origin lives, our tribe, a state, or a region? Where is home? It is clear in Genesis, home is God. There is a gospel song that makes it clear, “This world is not my home, I’m just a passin’ through.”