A few days ago, Kim Kardashian set the internet aflutter by posting a nekkid selfie on her Twitter account. And like millions of moths to flame, all the people swarmed in close, their blue thumbs up or down, only to fly away to the next irresistibly bright light.
The high volume of on-line chatter caused the ‘news’ to trend and be reported on by even main-stream media outlets. And so, even if you’d rather be stung by a billion bees before following Kim Kardashian on social media, there’s a chance her post popped up somewhere on your inter webs last week.
As David and I still have teenagers under care, we do try and pay attention to social media like it’s our job. But before you think we’re trying to be the boss of you, please take a moment to picture a couple of chubby-legged toddlers clinging to their dad’s pinky while he strides briskly through the mall. That’s us all the time. We’re mostly dragged along behind the technology times, desperately out of step, begging loudly to be picked up and carried to Chick Fil A.
That said, since you are now privy to the well-oiled parenting machine that we are not, I welcome you to participate in a recent discussion our family had around the dinner table about the Kim Kardashian episode.
The discussion took some twists and turns, but eventually settled down around this idea: If we believe that our days and our bodies are gifts from God, then Kim K. is alive for the very same reason we all are -God is extravagantly patient.
“But while she was still a long way off, her father saw her and felt compassion, and ran and embraced her and kissed her…”
I love the story Jesus tells in Luke 15 about a father and his two sons. The younger of the two brothers had big hopes and dreams that involved him leaving his home for a ‘far off county’. He was ready to establish his own identity. He was eager to create his own brand. The time had come for him to live his best life now!
“Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me…”
But this new identity required plenty of money to do it right. And so the son went to his father and demanded his considerable inheritance in advance. He didn’t have the time to wait. The best and most productive days of his life were passing him by!
“Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me…”
There’s a younger brother/sister in all of us. We want our share of the inheritance, and honestly think we deserve it. We demand God’s blessing, even as we prepare to strike out on our own and live as we please. We insist God gives us all that is owed to us, even as we pack up our things to build a life apart from him.
We want God’s blessings, but we don’t want him.
Kim Kardashian’s photo is the manifestation of the younger brother’s mantra: “Give me my life, and I’ll take it from here” she says to God. “Give me my body, and I’ll be on my way. I’ll use it as I see fit.”
Most of us probably won’t post a series of nude selfies in an attempt to build our life’s brand. But our naked striving is exposed in other ways: “Give me what I most long for” we say to God. “Give me the good things I’m due, the blessings I deserve, and I’ll use them to make a new life – a much better life than this one.”
What portion do you desire from God? What blessing, in your opinion, would give you some traction towards building the life you’ve always hoped for?
“Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. And after he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need…”
Even if we get everything we want in this life, our best resources will always run dry. Kim’s body will age. Her fans will disappear. The famine inevitably comes. It’s not IF our happiness will eventually wane, but when.
“So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything…”
Our strength, beauty, and vigor will fade. All our well-laid plans to build our own name brand will be in vain. We’ll be shown for the deeply dependent creatures that we are.
“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants…’”
It’s a grace when we come to the end of ourselves; when we realize no thing can give us real life. It’s a grace when we find ourselves alone, in the muck of our making, as it forces us to lift our eyes and remember our Father. Only God can give life. He is the blessing.
“So he got up and went to his father…”
It is a grace that God is so extravagantly patient with us in our wandering and squandering. We abuse his generosity, neglect his counsel, seek our own way, and run the opposite direction with his freely-given gifts. And still he gives us time to come to our senses and come home.
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son…’”
God sees us and loves us while we are still a long way off. He opens his arms and embraces us as favorite sons and daughters. Our father doesn’t turn away in disgust, or give us what we deserve for our betrayal. He doesn’t begrudgingly accept us back as shameful servants. No, God is extravagantly patient as he waits for us to come home to him.
But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’
No matter how far away we’ve gone – no matter what we’ve chased and squandered – God welcomes the humbled soul home. He runs out to meet us, wraps us up in his love, and orders up a feast.
And they celebrated.
Because God always welcomes the humble – grace and peace to you.
And because God is extravagantly patient – today and always – peace to Kim Kardashian.