Between two gutters.

After a slight delay. Here is the next codelife blog.

I will look away from the gutter but pull people out of it.

When you think of the gutters of society where does your mind go? Normally our minds go to drug addiction, prostitution, abusers and traffickers. The gutter often is a term reserved for visible, socially disrespected people or things. Those we deem in the gutter are those trapped in cyclic brokenness; a blight on society.

The gutter is the place where someone wilfully or against their will lives apart form their dignity, design and destiny. They are in a place of waste allowing the greatness that is in them to run away. So it isn’t just those addicted to substances or caught in cycles of pain who are in the gutter. It is also those embracing unrestrained greed and those addicted to self serving and self promoting religion. We walk on a path between two gutters, one looks respectable and wears a suit the other lies in its own mess destroying itself.

The call on the Christian is to avoid wandering or jumping headlong into the gutter on either side. The gutter of religion is as destructive as the gutter of addiction. Both destroy your life and pull you away from what you were made from. One robs you of your dignity the other of your humility and kindness. The call is also to help others out of the gutter. To provide safety and love to those stuck in addictive and destructive cycles and invite them to new and restored lives. It is also to call out the religious and invite them back into humble relationship with the One who makes all things new.

Jesus tells a story of a father and his two sons. The younger son, unable to wait until his father’s death takes his inheritance early and spends it on frivolous and wild living. His other brother stays at home and works hard, doing all that he is ever asked to do. The younger brother runs out of money and discovers he is also out of friends. Sitting in the pig sty he works in, longing to eat the slops the pigs get his mind is on his father. Even his father’s servants eat better than he does. He heads home to ask for a job. As he approaches his home his father runs out, hugs and kisses him, puts a robe on his back and ring on his finger.

His son was home, a feast was in order. A fattened calf is killed and a celebration commences. His older brother sulks in the garden angry at his brother and angry at his father. He had worked his whole life for his father and had never even been given a goat to eat with his friends.

His father comes to find him and listens to his sons complaint.

‘But you are my son. All that I have his yours.”

This has always been known as the prodigal son. The word prodigal means wasteful, and it is always used about the younger son. The younger son squandered his inheritance on transient satisfaction in moments of decadence. Yet this name misses the point of the story. Both sons were wasteful. One wasted the inheritance and the other wasted his father’s presence. The broken decadent son wasted his promise and the other son wasted his time.

May we be people who like the father in the story call those home who live in either gutter. Wasting their dignity on the worst of life or those wasting their design on the lie of religion. May we people in the gap calling others to join us in a life made new.

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