On Friday 27th March 2020, our office shut its doors like many many others as a precaution against the spread of the Coronavirus that cause the disease covid-19. Many Many things to write about this whole experience, but I embarked on an experiment to live stream the week’s devotions, themed on “fear” for my team mates. Some were able to join, others were not. I was asked if I could share the text from the devotions. This is 3 of 4 originally shared on Wednesday 1st April 2020.
Here we are, Day 3 of working from home – how did you all get on? It got really hot in our house yesterday, especially in the afternoon, it was hard to keep working! The Director’s team had a pretty successful 1st meeting via Zoom.
The past couple days we’ve talked about faith, fear, lies and renewing our mind. Today I want to look at our fear as it relates to funding and resourcing. Today was supposed to be a discussion on internal allocations and service fees. We will still want to have that discussion at some point – but it is not happening today! Many of us have thoughts about funding and resourcing. Some have expressed fears about the direction the organisation is going in order to secure resources. Some have expressed fear about us not having enough resources.
A couple of weeks ago I had this revelation about the story of the prodigal son. I was reading a book that I was given at the meetings I recently attended in Malaysia. And the author pointed out something that I hadn’t really understood before.
Lets read the passage together first in Luke 15:11-24
Luke 15:11-32 New Living Translation (NLT)
Parable of the Lost Son
11 To illustrate the point further, Jesus told them this story: “A man had two sons. 12 The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’ So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons.
13 “A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money in wild living. 14 About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. 15 He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs. 16 The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything.
17 “When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, ‘At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! 18 I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, 19 and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.”’
20 “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. 21 His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.[a]’
22 “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. 23 And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, 24 for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.
A familiar passage with a whole TON of things we can learn and different applications. I’ve always had LOADS of questions when I read this passage. Why did the son want to leave in the first place? Why did the father agree? How long did it take to spend the money? How long did it take to come to his senses? Did he have a wash before he got home?
As I have read up a bit more about this story, it seems my own cultural context means I miss some significant things. Maybe your own too – maybe not – but here is what I found out and it intrigued me.
It was SUPER offensive for the son to approach his father and ask what he did. He was wishing his father dead. PIGS are super offensive, and so working on the pig farm was the lowest of all the low jobs, it was no surprise folks ignored him. A man in the middle east would NEVER have run. Never. It was undignified for a big man (and he was a big man, he had a farm and servants and staff and workers). The clothes alone would have made that hard. He would have been a laughing stock to anyone who saw him. The kid would have been filthy and to embrace a dirty person, both physically and spiritually because of them pigs would have been a huge problem, he did it anyway.
He bought out a robe and a ring and sandals. Things of no significance to me.
The Robe was about restoration, but more than that, the cultural significance of the best robe being placed on the younger son, was that the father was actually transferring the primary inheritance from the elder son to the younger son. The younger son was restored to a higher place than when he left.
The Sandals were one of the differentiating factors between sons and servants. Sons had sandals, servants did not. It was symbolic of all the son was once again entitled to.
The Ring was a symbol of an office of authority. The father, despite witnessing his son’s mis-use of his inheritance, is now declaring that the younger son is in full control of all the family’s financial affairs. It was this ring that caught my attention in regards to funding and resourcing. It seems completely crazy to me that the father would do this. No time of rebuilding relationship, no time of rebuilding trust, straight in there and off you go.
We were once separated from God. Upon our reconciliation with Him, we were fully restored and we became Children of God and with it we have received the FULL inheritance as God’s children. Not only the primary inheritance, a simple double portion, but He has given us everything. He even puts us in charge of his resources on earth and wants us to use them to fulfil his plans for the earth.
The cool bit about that, is that God has enough resources to fulfil his plans. We don’t need to beg him. We are not servants looking for a favour or a hand out, but according to Romans 8:17 we are sons and daughters, co-heirs in Christ!
What do you believe? What we believe affects our thinking, affects our behaviour and affects our feelings.
Do you believe that we have got a full inheritance from a Father that has all the resources? Is the Ring of authority on your finger, and the Robe on your back and the Sandals on your feet?
Today’s exercise – not a simple as yesterday’s sorry! I want as many of you as are able to go to the google drive and engage in the missiological reflection on resourcing. I emailed out a couple weeks ago about it (ONLY AVAILABLE FOR OUR STAFF)
Please read the Read Me file with the instructions and it is SUPER important to engage in the discussion document, Missiological reflection is not an exercise to do in isolation, but together with others — so use the google doc (please use it AS a google doc to avoid complications not via file stream).
Any access issues – let me know!