New Living Translation (NLT)
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Parable of the Two Sons
28 “But what do you think about this? A man with two sons told the older boy, ‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’ 29 The son answered, ‘No, I won’t go,’ but later he changed his mind and went anyway. 30 Then the father told the other son, ‘You go,’ and he said, ‘Yes, sir, I will.’ But he didn’t go.
31 (a) “Which of the two obeyed his father?”
So who do you think was the more obedient son? If you guessed the first, you aren't alone. Jesus asked this question when He went into the temple to teach, and even the priests and elders answered correctly. Sadly, though, I don't think they got the point.
A lot of people today don't get the point either. There are those who wear their Christianity like a badge, as though they were the thought police of the world. They stand on street corners holding signs that say "You'll Burn In Hell". They have no compassion for the hurting in their midst, but have plenty of condemnation dripping from their lips. They have a ready defense for their own actions, but spare nobody their self-righteous diatribe.
But I'm not really even talking about them. That kind of hypocrisy is so obvious that it doesn't need someone like me to point it out. When Jesus had given sufficient time for his audience to answer the question, He elaborated. He said John the Baptist had come and shown them the right way to live, and they had dismissed him as irrelevant. He was talking to the Sadducees and the Pharisees, those who held positions as priests and teachers, those who were supposed to be the religious leaders of the day. And he was telling them that if they didn't repent of their sins, they'd be standing outside the Gate watching the the prostitutes and tax collectors enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.
The point He was making was that some of us think our farts smell like roses because we claim to have Jesus. Some of us go around thinking we're safe from the fires of hell because we're saved and sanctified. And yet, we continue living a life that makes God's stomach turn. We don't repent; We think God has given us a wink and a nod, because we repeated the words of a sinner's prayer that some preacher recited for us 20 years ago, or last week.
Let me tell ya something. When we accept Christ as our Savior, it had better be coming from our heart! It had better be because we recognize how nasty and filthy and undeserving we are! I don't mean to offend those who use the 'Sinner's Prayer' as a tool in witnessing, but I honestly believe that if a person feels the need to get right with God, he should come up with his own words, no matter how few they are! It doesn't have to be an eloquent speech.
The trouble is, the whole "repeat after me" version of salvation doesn't make the experience personal enough. When my daughters were young and would do something to make the other cry, I'd make the offender tell her sister "I'm sorry". Did she mean it? Probably not. Even if she really was sorry and sincerely meant the words she uttered, it wasn't believable, because she'd been told what to say. Sure, God can tell if a person is sincerely repentant, but I wonder; Does the person repenting believe the words he repeated?
There are a lot of people in the world who think they're exempt from the coming judgement. They accepted Christ with their mouths, but not in their hearts. They give lip service to God, but don't reflect Him in their lives. They unashamedly live immoral and decadent lives, doing whatever makes them feel good. They shack up with a lover, or indulge in gay relationships, they beat their children or spit on homeless people. They steal from their employer or they tell lies about their neighbor.
But they show up on church every Sunday morning and call it all good.
Meanwhile, that hooker down at 5th and Main? She's hating herself. She is filled with self-loathing. She keeps selling herself because nobody has loved her enough to show her a better way. She spends what she makes on booze or drugs to make her numb, so she can keep on existing the only way she knows how. She feels worthless because she knows her life is worthless without Christ.
So who are you? Are you the hooker, ready to give up everything in your comfort zone to serve God? Or are you the Pharisee sitting in your easy chair, surrounded by all the pleasures you think God doesn't really expect you to give up?
You call Him "lord". But is He really LORD over your life?