“…but when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands. So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him.” -Luke 15:17-20
Of all the things that are difficult to give up, to give up “being right” is perhaps the most difficult of all.
When our vision is so focused that we don’t see anything beyond our own point of view, we can miss the bigger picture of the greater good.
We can be rigid and self-righteous, thinking that we can court the favor of God by arbitrary standards of purity or rightness.
We can be stubborn-headed, refusing to recognize that new information changes the way we look at life, morality, and faith.
We can be too partisan—demonizing anything other than our preferred people, perspectives, and places.
We can be vindictive, mistaking “pay back” for justice, wanting other people to suffer instead of seeking reconciliation.
We can be argumentative—hoping to find a way to be right, or to justify ourselves, even when we know we have held on to the wrong argument.
So yes, indeed… of all the things that are difficult to give up, to give up “being right” is perhaps the most difficult of all.
But on this pathway that we call Lent—a pathway of turning, confessing, and restoration, we hear a voice calling us to give up any and all things that keep us from living in the reign of God… even giving up “being right,” when “being right” is just being stubborn.
Let us be mindful then, of our own dispositions toward ourselves and to others.
Let us not be critical of people finding new ways to connect with God.
Let us not remind people of their sins when they have turned from them—nor judge people for being stuck in them.
Let us not name as sin that which isn’t.
Instead, let us celebrate together the good news that God wants to be reconciled with us (and with one another). And as we celebrate that good news, let us help others, and ourselves, to discover our God, who runs to us in love and hope, when we are still a long way off.
Reflection by: The Reverend Dr. Richard W. McCarty
Image: The Prodigal Son (Undocumented, from RationalFaiths.com)