What is a captive?
Well, Webster describes a captive like this:
1 a : taken and held as or as if a prisoner of war b (1) : kept within bounds : CONFINED (2) : of or relating to captive animals <captive breeding> 2 : held under control of another but having the appearance of independence; especially : owned or controlled by another concern and operated for its needs rather than for an open market <a captive mine 3 : being such involuntarily because of a situation that makes free choice or departure difficult <a captive audience>
Yeah. That was me. A captive of disillusionment, disappointment, disgust, and eventually deep, deep discouragement.
And because I’ve been there?
I just can’t think of Prodigals as belligerent runaways or rebellious troublemakers.
And I don’t think Jesus does either.
I believe He is heartbroken over one of His own who leave The Church.
I, perhaps audaciously, think He sees a Prodigal-sheep—as one who has infinite value and potential.
One of His who has been “taken captive” by all those ugly “D” words to which I was just referring.
So let me ask you:
What do you see when you say the word: Prodigal?
Now, what do you see when you say the word: Captive?
Isn’t the perception different?
I believe one word hardens the heart (just a bit) while the other word softens the heart and makes it willing toward compassion. Naive perhaps, but maybe it is—just that simple.
I also believe it is high time we who call ourselves His Church, begin to view our prodigals more as captives, than runaways.
Don’t we need to embrace them with compassion, rather than judgment?
I have been a captive of disillusionment; caged by my disgust and disappointments. And yes, I have been judged and condemned by my Fellow-flock. Perhaps that is why I view those who have left our churches through tears, rather than with raised chins and cold shoulders.
I think Jesus weeps when He sees one of His own, wandering.
I believe He wants us, in His Church, to be more proactive about going out and finding those we so quickly write off with our shaking heads and wagging fingers.
God loves Prodigals!
Every. Last. One.
Don’t you think it’s high time, we in His Church, did too?