Summary: This sermon looks at how we so often look to things other than the Father’s love to fill the very core of our being

The Prodigal Son

October 7th, 2001

We are going to spend the next few weeks focusing on what might be the most foundational truth of our faith… the Father Heart of God.

- Paul prayed in Eph 3:18 that we would “grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ”.

- John wrote in 1 Jn 3:1, “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us”

- The Bible says that love isn’t simply a characteristic of who God is… it is His very essence. John wrote “God is love”

- And, He created us to be the object of His love and affection.

o Created in us is a longing to live in that love… to live in intimacy with the Father.

o The question then is what happens within us when that longing isn’t satisfied?

The fact is that that longing for a father’s love is not only going unfulfilled with regard to our Heavenly Father… but with our earthly fathers as well.

- In his book, Fatherless America, David Blankenhorn says, “Tonight, about forty percent of American children will go to sleep in homes in which their fathers do not live. Before they reach the age of eighteen, more than half of our nation’s children are likely to spend at least a significant portion of their childhoods living apart from their fathers.”

- Later in his book he writes… “in addition to losing fathers, we are losing something larger: our idea of fatherhood. Unlike earlier periods of father absence in our history, we now face more than a physical loss affecting some homes. We face a cultural loss affecting every home.”

- This cultural fatherlessness is evidenced by the prodigal lifestyle of so many.

- In the movie Field of Dreams, we see Kevin Costner plowing his cornfield to make a baseball diamond, which, in the end, allows him to experience a miraculous reunion with his father… a chance to express the words of love that eluded them in life. I think that movie struck a nerve in all of us b/c of the need in us all to experience a father’s love.

We live in a fatherless generation.

a. Biological fathers not present in 16% of homes with kids <18 in NJ (national average is 40%) with average in Morris County about 8.7%

b. Daily Record says that this level of “fatherlessness” is directly associated with the problems of education, teen pregnancy, and crime.

c. I don’t think any of us are surprise by this… that when the natural father’s love isn’t present, many choose to hit the party scene to find the love that is missing from their loves.

i. Many try the quick fixes offered by immorality, drugs, and alcohol. Yet the need for a father’s love is still there.

ii. The sex, drugs, and rock and roll solution only leads to a discovery of emptiness and a reawakened desire to find the father’s love.

d. But, you know, there are plenty of people we know who went off even though they had great dads. This only demonstrates a deeper longing, a deeper need in us.

Wherever we find fatherlessness, whether in the world, in the home, or in the church, we will find an emptiness, a longing, that we will either fill with the stuff of the world, or with the Heavenly Father’s love.

Perhaps on of the most powerful parables Jesus ever spoke was the story of the Prodigal Son. It is so often preached that I, at first, decided against preaching thru it. But nothing paints a more profound picture of the need for the Father’s love than this story.

LUKE 15:11-32 Read & Pray

We see, in this story of the prodigal son, two sons: the younger son who runs away from home to an alien country, and the older son who stays home to do his duty.

- The younger son fills his life with booze and women; the older son alienates himself by working hard and, with a great sense of duty, fulfills all his obligations.

- The fact is, as we’ll see, both are lost… both a prodigals. And, as we read the story, we can see that the father grieves over both b/c neither of them really experiences the intimacy he, as their father, desires.

- Lust for the things of this world, as well as cold obedience, will prevent us from experiencing all that God has for us. While on son stayed in the father’s house, both needed to come home to the place where they can rest in the embrace of their Father’s unconditional love.

In spite of having a loving, intimate father, the younger son approaches his father asking for his share of the estate…

- what a horrible thing to do to your father… to ask his father to divide up his estate like that would mean even further hardship for his father.

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