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One Smart Dude

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I want to begin tonight with a short quiz to see how many smart people we have here with us.

1. How do you put a giraffe into a refrigerator?

The correct answer is: Open the refrigerator, put in the giraffe and close the door. 

2. How do you put an elephant into a refrigerator?

Wrong Answer: Open the refrigerator, take out the giraffe, put in the elephant and close the door. 

3. The Lion King is hosting an animal conference.  All the animals attend except one.  Which animal does not attend?

Correct Answer: The Elephant.  The Elephant is in the refrigerator. 

4. There is a river you must cross.  But it is inhabited by crocodiles.  How do you manage it?

Correct Answer: You swim across.  All the Crocodiles are attending the Lion King’s  Meeting. 

            Tonight I want to share with you the story of one smart dude.

            You probably know people who think they’re pretty smart, but really aren’t very bright.

            A preacher, a Boy Scout, and Al Gore were the only passengers on a small plane. After lift off, the pilot rushes back to the cabin and says the plane is going down but there’s a problem: there are only three parachutes and four people.  The pilot says, "Sorry, guys. I can’t die in a plane crash. I have a wife and three kids."  So he takes a pack and jumps.

   Al Gore says, "I can’t die because I’m the smartest man in the world and everyone needs me."  So he takes a pack and jumps. The preacher turns to the Boy Scout with a sad smile and says, “Son, I have lived a long and rewarding life. You are young, so you go ahead and take the last parachute, and I’ll go down with the plane.” The Boy Scout just smiles and says, “Relax preacher, we both have parachutes. The smartest man in the world just jumped out of this plane with my backpack!”  

     Not everybody is as smart as they think they are. But Jesus tells a story in Luke 15:11-32 about a dude that really was smart.

            What made this dude so smart? Maybe it was because he knew what he wanted. He wanted his freedom.

            Jesus doesn’t tell us how old this dude was, but I imagine he was about the same age as many of you. He still lived at home with his dad and his older brother.

            Being the youngest he probably didn’t get much respect around the house. I imagine he got tired of working around the house, tired of taking orders from his dad, tired of being tied down. So he begins to work on his plans—big plans for moving out and moving on to bigger and better things. The only problem is he doesn’t have the resources to pull it off. At some point this smart dude comes up with a brilliant plan: I’ll get what I need from the old man!

            So imagine the conversation one day between this smart dude and his dad.

            Dad, I think it’s time I moved out and got a place of my own.  

            Dad doesn’t say anything right away. Then he speaks up: Son, where will you go? How will you survive without money or a job?

            Dad, I’ve been thinking. I know when you die me and my brother each get a share of your stuff. I’ve decided I don’t want to wait ‘til you die. I want what’s coming to me now—right now.

            How do you suppose this father feels when his son asks for his inheritance? Jesus doesn’t say. What He does tell us is dad gives this smart dude what he wants, and a few days later her watches his son walk down the road to find his freedom.

            I wonder what this smart dude is thinking? Man, that was too easy! Now I’m finally on my own! No more rules or regulations! No more chores! No more living life the hard way! It’s easy street from here on out! He can stay up as late as he likes, sleep in as late as he pleases. No curfew, no restriction. He has what he wants- his freedom

            I imagine it doesn’t take long for a footloose young man to find some friends to party with, and then maybe some girls who like a man with money. He really lives it up and thinks Man, I’ve got to be the smartest dude that ever lived.

            Have you ever dreamed about doing what this young man did? Getting out of the house, out from under mom and dad’s thumb, free and clear of all the hassles and harassment—sounds pretty sweet, doesn’t it? It sure does for this dude--at least for awhile. Until something happens this smart dude didn’t plan on.

            He runs out of money. His father gave him a lot of money, but something you probably already know is that money has a way of disappearing almost before you know it. The Bible puts it this way in

Pr 23:5 …For riches certainly make themselves wings; They fly away like an eagle toward heaven.

            As his cash flow dries up, so do his friends. It’s a sad fact of life, but a lot of people we think are our friends really just hang around us for what they can get out of us. When the well runs dry, they move on to greener pastures, and richer friends. Now this smart dude is totally on his own.

            Wouldn’t you know just then a famine hits, and the economy makes a nosedive. When he needs money the most, the job market bottoms out, and nobody will hire him. He spends his last penny to buy a little bread, and then the cupboard’s bare. For the very first time in his life, he feels real hunger pains. Nobody feels sorry for him—they’ve got their own troubles to worry about. He finally finds somebody who’ll let him feed pigs for minimum wage.

            He doesn’t have any money for rent, so he sleeps out in the fields with the pigs. He can only afford just enough bread to keep him from dying of starvation. He gets so hungry that even the pig slop starts to look appetizing.

            This smart dude doesn’t look so smart  now, does he? He’s in a spot he never dreamed he would end up: covered with mud, dressed in rags, feeding and eating with pigs.

            What happened? He was smart enough to want his freedom, and smart enough to find a way to get it, but he forgot one very important thing: freedom involves making decisions.

            When you’re at home, your parents make a lot of decisions for you. But when you’re out on your own, you make your own decisions. They may be good decisions, or bad decisions, but they are yours.

            There’s one more thing this smart dude forgot, a very important fact that I learned from an old man who is much wiser than I am. You might want to write this down, because it may be one of the most important bits of wisdom you will ever hear. Are you ready? This is it: Life is about making choices, and then living with the consequences of the choices you make.

            This smart dude makes some very foolish choices, and now he has to live with them.

            You have a lot of choices to make, and you must decide whether you will makes wise choices or foolish choices. You’ll make decisions about who to hang around with, how to spend your money, what you want to do after you get out of school, whether or not you will get saved, where you will work, whether or not to go to church, how far to go with your boyfriend/girlfriend. But please remember that every choice you make will have consequences that you will have to live with. You can make your own choices, but you cannot always choose the consequences of your choices. This smart dude learns this lesson a little too late. I encourage you to learn it now:  Life is about making choices, and then living with the consequences of the choices you make.

            That’s what this smart dude is doing—he’s living with the consequences of the choices he has made. He doesn’t look too smart, but I want you to know he really is a smart dude, because one night while he’s laying there next to the pigpen, he starts thinking.

            Man, how did I ever end up here, so all alone and far from home?

            Wait a minute. Far from home. Home. Suddenly a light comes on in his brain. Home.

            Memories flood his mind—the sight of the old house, the delicious smells coming from the kitchen, the smiling face of his father…

            For the first time in a long time he misses that face. For the first time since he left he asks a very smart question: what if I went back home?

            But how could he go home now? He’s be admitting he was wrong, admitting he’d been a fool. Could he do that?

            Even then, his dad might not let him come home. He might just give him an angry I told you so speech and send him back to the pigpen.

            But maybe there’s another way. If his dad wouldn’t welcome him back as a son, maybe he would welcome him back as a servant. His dad was a wealthy man, and he employed a lot of people to help him run the place. These servants had plenty to eat, a nice warm place to sleep. Maybe his father would welcome him back as his servant. Anything would be better than slowly starving to death in this pigpen.

            So this smart dude makes the smartest move he’s ever made: he decides to come back home.  

            He starts off down the road rehearsing his speech. Dad, I know I’ve been foolish, and I don’t deserve to be called your son. But could you please hire me on as one of your servants? I won’t cause you anymore trouble. Please help me.

            By the time he reaches home, he’s a little nervous, but ready to give it a try.

            What this smart dude doesn’t realize though, is that his father has been watching that road his son took when he went to find his freedom. Jesus says in vs. 20 while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Every day he looks out the window, every day hoping against hope to see his boy come back. And on this day, his hope becomes a reality.

            Then this old man doesn’t just walk out to his son—he runs. He wraps his arms around his boy, and kisses him. He pays no attention to the speech—he’s too busy ordering his servants to get proper clothes for his son, to get a ring for his finger, to plan a party to celebrate his boys’ return home.

Lk 15:23-24 23 …We must celebrate with a feast, 24for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.

            This is the smartest move this young man ever made. He came back home.

            It’s the smartest move you’ll ever make, too.

            Jesus told this story to make an important point about our relationship with God. In this parable, the father represents God, and the son represents you. God created you to be His child. As the father gave life to this smart dude and gave him gifts, He gave you life, and filled the world with all kinds of beautiful, fun things for us to experience and enjoy.

            He also gives you the same choice this father gave to his son-- to either be at home in His love, or turn away and go looking for your freedom.

            The sad part is that a lot of people, including many people your age, walk away from God and stay in the pigpen. They wallow around in sin, living selfishly, trying to enjoy life without Jesus. And like this boy, they do—at least for awhile.

            But every person that walks away from God eventually ends up in the pigpen. It might be a fancy pigpen, it may be an expensive pigpen, but it’s not home. Eventually, people who walk away from the Lord end up in a much worse place called hell, where nobody ever gets back home.

            This smart dude’s dad never chased his son, never tried to force him to come back. He waited, because the smart dude had to make take the first step.

            If you are ever going to make it home, you will have to take the first step. You’ll have to step out of the pigpen, and head home. Yes, you’ll have to admit you were wrong, yes you will have to come as you are. Jesus wants us to know that our Heavenly Father is watching the road tonight. He’s looking for somebody—maybe you—to walk away from the pigpen, and begin your journey back home to Him.

            Are you ready to come home tonight?


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