you are like me, you came from (or may still be part of) a fundamental religious
background. Performance was the name of the game. We grew up
Problem with that is - those are man's ideas - not God's way. That is what religion feed off of and keeps God's children enslaved and fragmented (denominated) from each other.
Here's how I see it
now. There are 3 kinds of folks in this world. One type of person doesn't give a
hoot - he lives his own life - God isn't a consideration at all. That type is
not a consideration for this parable. The other two are folks who comprise
the 'religious' world - those who have God in their lives in one manner or
another. The more 'religious" type has a blueprint for life . . . a plan
to follow - he is trying very hard to 'keep all the commandments' to do a good
job - and hopes he'll win the prize in the sweet by and by. 3rd type of person
has found a friend in Jesus, knows he's part of the family, and *naturally*
lives a life that shows that.
Here's a little parable that helped me see the difference. Let's say you have 2 adult children and an aging, ill father. This father needs a lot of personal care and it takes a lot of time and some sacrifice to provide it for him. Yet - there is a little something at the end to sweeten the pot - Daddy has a lot of money to be given away after his death. One child shows up at all the appointed times to do his part of the responsibilities - he bathes him, feeds him, talks to him. The son is tired and has his own life that he's had to put on hold while he comes over here to work, but he keeps reminding himself that he's doing the right thing - what he's supposed to do as a son, and ....in the end, it will all be worth it. He'll have his share of the inheritance and so all this trouble he's gone through - the things he's done without - will all be forgotten.
The next child is there all the needed times as well, and even some times when he isn't needed. He loves spending time doing things for his father - loves the conversations, loves to make him comfortable, in fact, he's even thought of moving in with Dad so that he can try to show Dad the love and compassion that Dad always showed him when *he* needed it. When asked about the inheritance, he looks up sort of surprised? "Huh? That never even crosses my mind. I'm here because I love him, and he needs me."
Now - that may see sort of goofy to you - but I see the difference in those 2 kids in the same way I see differences in the lives of religious folks. Kid One is trying SO hard to do the RIGHT thing...what he *should* do - and he's not a bad kid at all .. he does everything his father needs him to - but he's missing the RELATIONSHIP.. he's doing what he should do - but all the while his mind is trying to do the right thing and on the future - a goal. Kid Two feels he has his reward already - it's the time with his father - the relationship - he's not doing anything because he has to - because he is supposed to...and if you were to ask him "what do you have to do for him?" = he'd say - "I don't HAVE to do anything."
There's our problem. Legalism says you HAVE to. In fact, just about everything is borne from a supposed to feeling, I don't think God wants that from us. If you are SUPPOSED to stay away from sin, if you SHOULD ask for forgiveness, if you MUST stay clean and unspotted from the world - I think you've missed the boat on the "You Have it All Today Cruise Line" - you are doing all the work - but not having the life that is so wonderfully promised in the NT - the one Paul was so turned on about - the one that brought about such amazing changes in those first Christians - life just never was the same for them.
God doesn't want children who are fulfilling an obligation or working to beat a deadline or arrive at point A. He wants kids who WANT him. I think he truly wants people who LIKE Him. Want him to share their lives. He wants that relationship back he had with Adam - someone who will be his friend - walk and talk with him in the evenings. That cannot come out of any sort of duty or of the saving one's soul from Hell. If that's what you're in it for - I really think you're wasting your time. And His.