Maintaining peaceful relations between the church and the world might have been feasible in our grandparent’s generation, when American culture was still somewhat seasoned by the moral flavors in the palate of Christian tradition. But today it is becoming increasingly clear that there is a MAJOR distinction between Christ’s agenda for the earth and the priorities of fallen humanity at large. If the more “forward-thinking” churches do somehow manage to salvage Christianity’s public image so that a few non-believers will be won over by their impressive lack of embarrassment in the eyes of the world, we might be tempted to congratulate them for accomplishing such a difficult feat.
I would purport that it was not the prodigal son’s request to obtain his inheritance early OR even that he squandered it all. Rather it was that upon receiving his inheritance, the younger son went far away from his father’s house to live for himself; and by doing so, he effectively severed all relationship with his father. Therefore we see that the true sin of the prodigal son was that he quantified his sonship in terms of the sum of money to which he was entitled by birthright and failed to recognize the true value of his sonship – the relationship with his father.
At its root, almost every problem that humanity has wrestled with since the dawn of time boils down to the glorification – or deification – of the self in some way shape or form. Jesus came to save us from our self-centered world by demonstrating selfless love by laying down his life in thought, motive, action, word and – ultimately – his very death. Therefore, the only antidote to our current state of self-preoccupation is complete and utter SELF-DENIAL, which is to “deny yourself, take up your cross,” and follow the example of the only person who ever truly died to Himself.
God first had to destroy the “chosenness” of the entitled Jews so that He might establish the chosenness of grace for the entire world in its place. That’s why John writes that God “came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him,” referring to the Jews. “BUT as many as received Him” – Jew and Gentile – “to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12) This “right” is the new covenant, which is the chosenness of GRACE which is sealed by the blood of Christ and obtained through faith.