4.1 A Case of Mistaken Identity: Concluding Thoughts (Luke 15:11-32)
Mistaken identity is perhaps the great problem of our current age. Human beings search for meaning, fulfillment, purpose, happiness-- whatever the terminology it is the same search-- we seek to know who we are.
C. S. Lewis writes in his book The Weight of Glory, "Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in the slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by an offer of a holiday at sea. We are far too easily pleased."
Lewis is not suggesting that we reject the pleasures of this life. This is no Platonic dualism which denies the goodness of the physical in order to obtain some amorphous spiritual existence. Life is good and God means for us to enjoy it, but all of life is a gift from God and meant to be used in the way God intends.
Like the prodigal son we attempt to fill the divine restlessness in our lives with the things of this world. Even though the things of this world are good, they were never meant to "give rest to our restless hearts," in the words of St. Augustine. When the good gifts of this world are used in the search for meaning, we will inevitably misuse those gifts and like the prodigal son we will end up making mud pies with the pigs; we will forget who we are.
It must not be forgotten that, throughout his letters, Paul continually reminds us that we are "in Christ." This is identity language. All things, including the good gifts of this world are subsumed under that identity. It is not more money that will end our search for meaning, nor the right companion, the great job, nor fame and popularity. The true end of life is to be found in cross and resurrection. It is there and only there that all of the prodigal sons and daughters of the world will find themselves and, once and for all, be at home.
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I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)