I just watched a clip of Tucker Carlson’s opening monologue. His topic was “What’s It Going To Cost You?” if we go to war with Russia over Ukraine. I’ve cut way back on my news intake the past two months, but I think it’s worth checking the headlines to see if America has engaged in conflict (yet). Carlson is obviously against the idea (and personally I find it rather hypocritical that our administration is more concerned about freedom and sovereign borders for other countries than they are about the freedom of the people they are supposed to represent and our own borders). Don’t get me started! (I digress.)
The thought occurs…why do wars have to happen anyway? Why is there always conflict in some corner of the world? Why can’t governments just govern the people they serve with compassion, be satisfied with the borders they have, and let people live freely? Why are governments corrupt? Why is it always about money and power and greed? Should we not have evolved to a better class of humanity – one that is able to live peaceably and generously with one another?
The answer is pretty clear. At their core, humans are sinful. Our consciences are broken. Our desires are fueled by corrupted flesh. We are born in the image of our father, Adam, who passed down an inheritance of a sinful nature. We simply can’t get better on our own.
That’s why Luke 15 is such a hopeful chapter. Jesus is having dinner with a group of tax collectors – sinners, who wanted to hear more of His teaching. The self-righteous Pharisees grumbled against Him for hanging out with the wrong crowd. Their accusation is meant to be disparaging, but in fact, it is the most hopeful, positive news about Jesus we could hear:
This man receives sinners and eats with them (Luke 15:2).
Jesus knows what they are thinking and saying about Him and tells three parables that have one common theme and message.
In the first, a shepherd has one hundred sheep, but one has strayed. He leaves the ninety-nine in the pasture and goes after his lost sheep. When he finds it, he lays it on his shoulders and comes home rejoicing. He calls his friends and neighbors to celebrate: Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!
In the second parable, a woman had ten silver coins but loses one of them. She lights the lamps and searches diligently and carefully, unwilling to give up the search. When she finds her lost coin, she calls her friends and neighbors to celebrate: Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I had lost!
The third parable is familiar to you – the story of the prodigal son. A man has two sons; his younger asks for his inheritance early. The father obliges, dividing his wealth and sending off the young man to find his way in the world. Immature and unwise, the son throws his inheritance away, squandering it on loose living in a distant country. Broke, hungry, and homeless, he finally comes to his senses and returns home to beg his father’s forgiveness and offer himself as his servant. The father sees him coming from a long way off and runs to embrace him; he welcomes him like royalty and throws a party in his honor. Of course, the older son is jealous and stays away, pouting, and angry. The father assures the faithful son he is heir to all that he has but reminds him: We had to celebrate and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost, and has been found!
Jesus explains to the Pharisees that there is joy in heaven in the presence of the angels when a sinner repents.
God rejoices when we come home.
God is glad when those who are lost are found.
God is delighted when one of His children repent.
God’s heart is filled with joy because He knows the only answer to war and pride and greed and corruption is a repentant heart. The only way we move from death to life is returning home to our Father who created us for a relationship with Him, and every time this happens, God rejoices.
God is righteously angry at our sin, especially when we knowingly continue in it (Psalm 7:8-12). He’s angry because He knows what sin does. Why is there war? Because sin brings destruction. The hearts of sinful men make sinful choices. The continuing conflict and unrest in our world are evidence that we need a Savior.
Sanctions and treaties and threats of war and sending our military troops into battle won’t fix the conflict that rages in the hearts of those who are spiritually dead and lost. The Bible tells us that wars will continue until they escalate into a worldwide rebellion against Jesus Himself, who will return to silence His enemies (those who refuse to repent) by the breath of His word. What do we do in the meantime?
We tell everyone we know to come home.
We encourage sinners to repent, just as Jesus did.
We seek out the lost and pray for the Holy Spirit to bring the dead to life.
How does it make you feel to know that God finds great joy when you repent? May we all respond to His compassion and patience and make His heart glad!