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A Story of Two Sons

In Tim Keller’s latest book, I found a 130 page gem that I will undoubtedly carry with me as a close companion for years to come.

I just set it down after reading it on this lazy Sunday morning and I found it to be like a mirror for my soul, exposing some of my deepest longings, darkest corners, wayward motivations and sincere needs. It served to elevate my appreciation and understanding of the material and spiritual unity of our humanity. Keller’s succinct approach in this little nugget has a beautiful simplicity that served as a gateway for me to encounter both eternity in between the lines but also not become weighted down by a cumbersome analysis.

Through this book, the Gospel has expanded both in width and depth in my heart and mind, or rather the book served to lift me up into the skies to capture a fresh perspective of the landscape of God’s beautifully Good News. I am indebted to the gifts found in the words Keller has penned and I can sincerely say that I met with my Savior and my Father while sojourning from beginning to end of The Prodigal God.

It’s through the oft-repeated and over-simplified parable of Jesus, “the Prodigal Son,” that Keller draws his discussion for The Prodigal God. I must immediately confess that I have glossed the words of this parable countless times, not infrequently moved by the forgiveness and compassion of the father depicted (God), but the depths of this subversive and stunning story have been lost on me until now. As Keller says, if the kingdom of God were likened to a lake, this parable seems to be a spot where we may be able to see down to the bottom.

Keller immediately points to one of the great disservices we do to this parable: we call it “the Prodigal Son,” when Jesus was really telling the story of two lost sons and the love shown by the father toward both. The word prodigal holds a gravity which we are not familiar with; it means “recklessly spendthrift.” Keller maintains that this parable shows us the recklessly spendthrift nature of God more than anything else, hence the title The Prodigal God. It’s the lavish grace of God our Father that ought to really send us off our rocker.

While reading this book, I saw the elder/legalistic and younger/licentious polarism that I travel between in my own journey with Christ. And it’s the True Elder brother I need to show me his entirely new way to live, the True Elder brother whom Keller so beautifully reveals in the person of Christ who went out in search of us to woo us home into the Father’s love and mercy.

If you want to continue gazing into the depths of the "lake" shown in this parable, I encourage you to pick up this book. I doubt you will be disappointed. We can chat about it here or in person!

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