I’ve just been reading Martin Luther King’s ‘The Measure of a Man’. In it, King mentions the story of the prodigal son, in which a son demands his inheritance from his fathers estate even though his father is still alive, leaves home, squanders the money and comes home begging for forgiveness. The father welcomes him home as a son who “was dead but is now alive” and before the son can even ask for forgiveness, he is embraces by his loving father. Martin Luther King responds to this story in applying it to the civil rights issues of his day:
This is the glory of our religion: that when man decides to rise up from his mistakes, from his sin, from his evil, there is a loving God saying, ‘Come home, I still love you’…
It seems that I can hear a voice saying to America: “You started out right. You wrote in your Declaration of Independence that ‘all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights. Among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.’ But America, you strayed away from that sublime principle. You left the house of your great heritage and strayed away into a far country of segregation and discrimination. You have trampled over sixteen million of your brothers. You have deprived them of the basic goods of life You have taken away from them their self respect and their sense of dignity. You have treated them as if they were things rather than persons. Because of this a famine has broken out in your land. In the midst of all your material wealth, you are spiritually and morally poverty-stricken, unable to speak to the conscience of this world. America, in the famine situation, if you will come to yourself and rise up ad decide to come back home, I will take you in, for you are made for something high and something noble and something good.” (p19-20)
This applied very clearly to the civil rights movement of MLK’s day. I wonder how it applies to the western world today. Perhaps God sees the material wealth of the West and compares it to the poverty of the developing world and weeps for them. Perhaps he sees that the current global food crisis id driven by the western worlds desire for ever cheaper material goods and ever cheaper oil. Perhaps he sees what we are doing to His environment, again due to the desire for economic success. Perhaps there are many more… What would he have us do?
I don’t pretend to know the ins and outs of each of these situations or how they can be fixed, but I’m sure God grieves over them.