The Prodigal Nation: Can There Be Restoration Without Repentance?
How can our nation experience full restoration from the economic meltdown? For the answer, let’s consider the famously known story of the prodigal son in three scenes:
Scene 1: Rebellion
A young man rebels against his father, collects his share of the inheritance, then promptly squanders it. About the time he ran out a money, a famine also hit the land and he was about to starve—a double whammy. The only job he could find was feeding pigs—ironic for a Jewish boy. He was so bad off that even the pods the pigs were eating looked good to him. But no one gave him a thing.
Scene 2: Repentance
Finally, he came to his senses. He realized that back home even the servants had food to spare. He decided to go home and say to his father, “Father, I have sinned against both you and heaven. I am no longer worthy to be your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.” Ah, repentance.
Scene 3: Restoration
As he approached home, his father saw him and ran out to greet him, embracing and kissing his son. The young man said what he had come to say. But the father said, “Quick! Bring the finest robe we’ve got for my son—and a ring and sandals. And kill that calf we’ve been fattening. We’re going to celebrate with a feast. My son was dead, but now he has returned to life. He was lost, but now he’s found.” And then they had quite a party. Notice first that restoration is “unilateral.” The father didn’t require his son to “do” something to “deserve” or “earn” restoration. Notice second that the restoration was “full.” The father didn’t hold anything back, but what kind of party do you think the father would have thrown if the son had come back mad and huffy—or “somewhat” sorry? It wouldn’t have been nearly the homecoming, would it?
We cannot “fix” this economy (or any other problem you face)—at least not fully. We’re not going to “manage” our way out of this meltdown. As a nation, we’re not going to borrow our way out of a problem that we borrowed our way into.
At some point, we must confess that we are a prodigal nation. We have been guilty, as a nation, of prodigal living—of living in rebellion against God’s plan.
God’s process is rebellion–>repentance–>restoration. The only pathway to full restoration is full repentance. By the way, if you want a partial restoration, then offer a partial repentance.
Unless and until we, the Christians, say, “Father, we have sinned against you. We are not worthy to be called you sons,” I wouldn’t expect a big party anytime soon.
Yours for changed lives,
Patrick Morley, Ph.D.