So… question… did you get to meet Jeff on his book tour? I met him this evening, and I have never been more excited to write a subsequent review of his book, because his topic tonight was Luke 15, and it is a central theme to the book itself.
It’s an interesting question Jeff posed this evening at Grace Community Church here in Houston: does the older brother join the party, or not? Ponder on that for a moment, and let me continue…
The younger son, the one demanding his inheritance to go and squander it all away on partying and women, has now returned. The picture of God’s grace is shown clearly, as the father is looking anxiously for his son to return, which is how he saw him from a long distance. Jeff pointed out tonight that you don’t spot someone at a great distance if you’re busy watching the Texans beat the Seahawks down in the first quarter of the game. No, you wouldn’t notice them even if they were close by… especially when the tide of that game turned, and the Seahawks won (nod to Jeff for the smiley face to @199Proverbs). That father was watching closely, and then took off running to meet and greet his son.
The “my bad” speech is started, and then interrupted, as the father gives orders to welcome the son back into the family. The son then finishes his speech (almost religiously, wouldn’t you say?), and the father continues to ignore and brings the prodigal son home. He is welcomed to the party with all his filth, all his stains, and the father is not concerned about them at all. All is forgiven, for the son has returned home.
The older brother, seeing the commotion, goes to the servants to find out what’s going on. He finds out, and grows indignant over the party being thrown for the “bad” son. “I’ve been good… never left… oh, and by the way, pops, your son there has been hanging with prostitutes, you know?” Such a poor attitude… not recognizing the grace the father showed. The older brother is more interested in the proper and lawful response (almost religiously, wouldn’t you say?), and not interested in forgiveness and grace of any kind.
The father just looks at the older brother, entreating him to come inside and join the party. It’s better than the law when you live in grace. Just as, for the younger son, it’s better than the sin when you live in grace. Your father loves you, and nothing you can do will change that.
Hey peeps… your Heavenly Father loves you, and there’s nothing you can do to change that.
Make no mistake, we are all sinners from conception, and we cannot properly address the grace without addressing the gross… and we all have gross. Jeff’s question in the book is which son we’re trying to be? Are we trying to be an employee, or accepting of our status as a child? Jesus has seen our gross, and because we’ve brought it to Him, it has been covered with His grace. That makes us able to stand apart from the annual performance reviews or the quarterly testing to get our next degree Christian Belt… we are His children, and not indentured servants.
But the parable ends. Parables, of course, are made up stories to convey a point. And the question posed to us tonight was, did the older brother join the party? Naturally, we don’t know… but if you are the older brother right now, being legalistic and seeking for what would be fair for others, then I would ask you why you won’t drop that nonsense and come join the party yourself?
And if you’re the younger brother inside, and you recognize that your older brother is outside seeking the human fairness to which we all ascribe ourselves (almost religiously, wouldn’t you say?), then it is incumbent upon you, having been forgiven of much, to go and extend the same invitation. The Kingdom grows and flourishes when we participate… not when we stagnate.
For Jefferson Bethke the author, all I have is thanks. The Lord has blessed him with a message that must be shared, especially with the current generation, and Jeff is being faithful to deliver that message with reckless abandon. I pray that we would all seek to be so bold and so outgoing as we discover our talents as children of the King.
And as for Jefferson Bethke the man… I met him before the show, and told him my name in a crowded, dark, and loud room. When I went to get a print signed, he greeted me by name, and remembered the name of my son which I had loosely mentioned an hour and a half before. I was about forty people back in the line for pics and autographs, and I didn’t press forward or try and impose… I was just gonna shake his hand, and then leave after our picture. But his heart for what he teaches and preaches, and his care for those he impacts is real enough that he remembered one guy out of several dozen that he met that day… and that impressed me more than anything.
The book is excellent, and a #MustRead by all measurements. Jeff’s speaking and presence are powerful, and you can see and feel his passion for Jesus’ grace, and the need for us all to be infected by it so hopelessly that we cannot possibly think of anything better than to spend a moment in prayer with Christ. And as for my thoughts in this launch week and this blogging experience… well, all I can say is that I stand grateful to have a brother like @JeffersonBethke for the times when iron can sharpen iron. We are all blessed to get to learn from God through him, for however long that may last.
Grace and peace to you, my brother Jeff.
If you haven’t gotten your copy yet, it’s out on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Christian Book World, and can be found at Jeff’s site http://www.jesusisgreater.tv
(Oh, and props on the awesome #photobomb in the background… cracked me up!!!)