My boys have been fascinated with the LeBron James saga this week. We’ve been on vacation- but at every opportunity they tuned in to ESPN to get the latest. It was an interesting story…as four years ago LeBron spurned his home state of Ohio to go to “greener pastures” (and more talent) in Miami. You remember what happened next. LeBron jerseys were burned all over Cleveland and northeast Ohio. People called him traitor. His image was removed from buildings and local endorsement deals. Even his family was not immune- as his mother had to endure all sorts of hostility and threats.
Four Finals appearances and two NBA championship rings later- he decides he’s ready to return home. The 2010 decision was a thing of the past. All is forgiven in an instant. An internet article described it as the “Prodigal Son Returns.”
This is a reach. I don’t think that LeBron’s situation can be described a prodigal. You all remember the story from the book of Luke, which truly describes the story of the prodigal son.
Luke 15:11-32 (ESV) And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs.
We know what happens next. The son returns home and is forgiven by his father. Riches, followed by unrighteous living, a downfall, and then a return to the comfort of his family.
While LeBron’s decision can’t truly be compared to the account in Luke, I can certainly relate from my own life. There have been times when I have behaved, acted or just thought in ways that provided a departure- or at least a temporary distraction- from the way that God wants me to live. Career, self-interest and pride have often blinded me from God’s will for my life.
1 John 2:1-29 (ESV) My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him:
Thank the Lord that we have an advocate for us when we go astray. Our heavenly Father provides us with unconditional love, and through the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus on the cross we have grace and forgiveness from our actions. We just need to repent and change course- not an easy thing to do for prideful people, like myself.
Philippians 2:12-16 (ESV) Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.
I am thankful for the forgiveness that is offered when I wander astray as the prodigal son.