Saturday Quotable – Karen Swallow Prior on the Prodigal Son

Reflecting on Luke 15:11-32

It is hard, after all, to love a God of justice and righteousness and not to love those qualities overmuch. It strains our human frailty to hate rebellion, squandering, and wantonness – prodigality – and yet be able to embrace one so wasteful. … Yes we want grace, but in the recesses of our hearts, if we are honest, we want it doled out with justice.

[Yet the] love of the father is more prodigious than the son’s waywardness. The love the father shows the Prodigal Son – both in the son’s leaving and in his returning – is nothing if not extravagant. It is a love that is blind to past wrongs and present accounting. It is a love that offers the loved one the freedom to squander, without cajoling or badgering or wrangling the prodigal into wisdom.

Karen Swallow Prior
“Prodigal Love”
Christianity Today (Sept. 2013)

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9 Responses to Saturday Quotable – Karen Swallow Prior on the Prodigal Son

  1. Jeannie says:

    JUST what I needed today. Thanks Tim, and Karen! Off to read the whole article …..

  2. Bronwyn Lea says:

    Loved this article. Thanks for the quote 🙂

  3. Adriana says:

    How did I miss that article?! Headed over to read it now. Thanks, Tim.

  4. Tim loved what this article said about “Whether in the church or out of it, wandering in the hills or working the Father’s fields, we need the Father’s radical love equally—the elder son no less than the prodigal.” I belive this points to something that Barna in his book “Maximum Faith: Live Like Jesus” points out “Among those who become “born again Christians,” most never move past stop five – (i.e., having invited Christ to be their savior and then engaging in a lot of religious activity).”

    In the book he points out that in order to get to completeness, to become more Christlike one must get past step number 7. here is how he desribes it – “The single most challenging stop is what Barna identified as “stop 7, which is that of brokenness.” The researcher indicated that in order to move closer to completion of the journey, a person must be broken of three things: sin, self, and society. He noted that America’s culture serves as a strong barrier to people being willing to completely abandon themselves and the world in favor of listening to, obeying and enjoying God”

    Problem is he says in the book is less than 0.05% ever reaches this step and that includes the majority of pastors.

    Though the book does not tie in the story, when comparing the quote with Barna’s findings it might be said the reason why the majority never experince the radical love of the Father is that they have never experienced the brokeness of the prodigal. Rather instead being comfortable to sit in thier easy chairs(pews) on Sunday morning in their smugness, patting themselves on the back for not being the prodigal, without realizing they are in effect the prodigals.

    Thanks for the link Tim and here is the link to a summation of Barnes book I just took those quotes from. The book is much better! https://www.barna.org/transformation-articles/480-research-on-how-god-transforms-lives-reveals-a-10-stop-journey

    Thanks .

    • Tim says:

      Barna’s quantification is interesting, but completely understandable coming from him! Our growth in Christ certainly can be hindered along the way by us clinging to our own worth, like the elder son, and not realizing that we are truly broken and naked and blind, as Jesus pointed out to eh Laodicean church members.

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