“We must bear patiently not being good…and not being thought good.” –Francis of Assisi
I think that God spends a lot of time grieving over his many failed attempts at liberating us from our own “goodness.” He must weep over us all.
Please think about this.
The Prodigal is a person who misses the mark, the one who falls short. That’s a good picture of the word “sin”—to miss the mark. I get that. People screw up. And we see it all the time, people who are always wandering around, messing up, making God-awful choices again and again. Been there, done that, got the T-shirt.
Then, there are our more righteous brothers and sisters, the ones who do everything right, striving to never miss the mark, but can tragically spend their entire lives completely missing the point. They are so right, their energy and spirit often turn others away. Even worse, because they are so right, they remain blind to their own need for radical grace. See The Gospel of John, chapter 9.
I was born with a prodigal heart, fighting and resisting organized religion and its devoted guardians. As a struggling follower of Jesus, I’ve attempted to take up what I thought was his cause and concern for the spiritual outcasts, the morally marginal and all of my good “pagan” friends. I’ve relished talking about his compassion for the unlovable and unacceptable, while throwing under the bus all the religious hard-liners—the people who sincerely try to do good and live a really committed Christian life.
I’ve been the champion of grace for every wandering, lost, face-in-the-mud prodigal, while writing off my pious, play-by-the-book brothers and sisters.
I’ve been judging the judgmental.
Because of God’s mercy and unfailing love for us, we can be hopeful that someday we will have the heart of the Waiting Father who longs to embrace the faithful do-gooders as much as he loves those who stumble through the front door lost and dirty. We all miss the mark. And, we all miss the point. We are all prodigals finding our way home.