What a difference in the thought of God and in the joy of life would have followed had the hearers of Jesus given the parable of the Prodigal Son its full significance! They would then have found in the happy, loving father and his full forgiveness of the son who “came to himself” a type of the Heavenly Father. The shadow of the olden fear still persists, chilling human life. We do not trust the love of God and bear life’s burdens with cheerful courage. From lurking fear of the jealous king of Hebrew tradition, we are even afraid to be happy when we might. We fail of faith in the reality of God’s love. We forget the robe, the ring, the overflowing joy of the earthly father, not earned by the prodigal, but given from complete love. The thing best worth while is faith in the love of God.
If it be lacking, perhaps the best way to gain it is to assume it—to act on the basis of its existence, putting aside our doubts, and giving whatever love we have in our own hearts a chance to strengthen.
Whitsuntide is a church season that too often fails to receive due acknowledgment or recognition. It is, in observance, a poor third. Christmas is largely diverted to a giving of superfluous gifts, and is popular from the wide-felt interest in the happiness of children. Easter we can not forget, for it celebrates the rising or the risen life, and is marked by the fresh beauty of a beautiful world. To appreciate the pentecostal season and to care for spiritual inspiration appeals to the few, and to those few on a higher plane. But of all that religion has to give, it represents the highest gift, and it has to do with the world’s greatest need.
Spiritual life is the most precious of possessions, the highest attainment of humanity. Happy are we if our better spirit be quickened, if our hearts be lifted up, and our wills be strengthened, that worthy life may bring peace and joy!
We cannot deny the truth that the things of the spirit are of first importance; but when it comes to living we seem to belie our convictions. We live as though we thought the spirit a doubtful matter. There are those who take pride in calling themselves materialists, but they are hardly as hopeless as those who are so indifferent that they have no opinion whatever. The man who thinks and cares is quite apt to come out right, but the mindless animal who only enjoys develops no recognizable soul. The seeking first is not in derogation of any true manhood. It is the full life, the whole life, that we are to compass—but life subordinated and controlled by the spirit, the spirit that recognizes the distinction between right and wrong. Those who choose the right and bend all else to it, are of the Kingdom. That is all that righteousness means.