You're Never Too Far
Topic: Sunday Message Verse: Luke 15:1–15:2, Luke 15:11–15:24
You're Never Too Far
A four week Easter series celebrating the HOPE Jesus Christ can bring to everyONE.
HOPE for every ONE
“HOPE for everyONE” is a four-week Easter series where we're looking at stories from the Bible about Jesus, where the HOPE He brings isn’t just for “the world,” or for “the many,” or even for “the few.” No, these stories are about “the ONE”--the man, the woman, the person who’s just like us.
Jesus Told Stories to Teach Truth
A parable is a simple earthly story with a profound heavenly meaning. Jesus would tell a story or make an analogy about a familiar object or a situation from everyday life, and then connect it to a deeper, spiritual truth. His parables always made a point and that point was very pointed; it forced His listeners to make some kind of choice.
Luke 15:1-2 NIV
1 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. 2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
Luke 15:11-24 NIV
11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them. 13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. 17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. 21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.
Shame is one of the most powerful and debilitating emotions we’ll ever experience. Now the words “shame” and “guilt” are similar, but they’re not the same. Christian counselor and author, David Powlison distinguishes the two: He says that “guilt is the awareness of our failures against some kind of standard,” while “shame is the awareness of our failures in the eyes of someone else.” With shame it could be that we’ve failed in the eyes of others; maybe we’ve failed in the eyes of God; or maybe we’ve failed in our own eyes and who we think we ought to be. And that failure leads us to deep embarrassment, which in turn then drives us to deep despair. What’s tricky about shame is that there’s both true shame and false shame. Some shame is legitimate. After Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden and we’re later found by God, He asked them, “Why were you hiding?” Adam said, “I was afraid (or "I was ashamed"), so I hid.” Too often, however, even if there is true shame involved, false shame can also worm its way into our hearts and the effects can be devastating. So while true shame says, “I'm sorry. I made a mistake.” False shame says, “I'm sorry. I am a mistake.” So in this parable, there was true shame over how the son treated his father, but then false shame also came in when he found himself tending pigs and longing for their food.
You're Never Too Far
Jesus wants you to know that you’re never too far from God. Never. Shame will try to convince you that “you’ve done too much” and “you’ve gone too far” for God to ever take you back, but that is a lie from the pit of hell. Similarly, your self-centered pride wants to keep you captive by telling you, “If people ever find out who I really am, and what I’ve really done, then my life will be over forever.” But that’s a lie too. Now getting to a place of honesty and humility like that is anything but easy, but that’s where hope starts. Just like we saw in the parable with the broken young man who confessed: “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you.”
There really is HOPE for everyONE. Hope not just for those who look so put together on the outside; no, it’s hope for everyONE, even the outcasts who feel judged by others and have blown it in the past. There’s hope for you too, because life’s not ultimately defined by “what you’ve done,” or “where you’ve been”, or “how far you feel from God right now.” No, there is a shame-busting, Heavenly Father who’s watching and He’s waiting for you to come back home.
Easter's coming--Sunday, April 1, 2018. Check out this link for details about our Easter services in Saginaw (8:00am, 9:30am, 11:00am & 12:30pm) and Bay City (10:30am).