What we do not know will hurt us
In most languages there are sayings that people adopt or create to express truth with a few words. Some call them proverbs, maxims or adage's. One such case is "You don't know what you have until you lose it." It proves to be true all the time. We take things for granted. Another phrase gives us a perfect example, "You never miss the water till the well runs dry." Unless we come from countries were water is scarce, we take water for granted. We do not realize how much we need it until we have none or have no access to it. This meant no drinking, no showers, limited cooking, no cleaning, etc. We learned to be grateful for water.
In the parable of the prodigal son neither of the children are grateful to their father. They take him for granted. They are more interested in what he gives to them, than they are on him. Both of them misunderstand the father; which means neither of them knew the father well. They both saw as a source of means and wealth. Not as a loving caring father who loved them.
It is evident in the youngest one when he asked for his part of the inheritance and parts to afar away country. There is no thought about how would this action affect others, including his father. It was totally selfish.
In the eldest brother it is evident when he chastised his father for wasting a fatted calf on a brother who did not deserve to be celebrated. In the eldest brother's mind, the father should have rewarded him for all the hard work and loyalty. He too was selfish. He thought the basis of his father love should have been his performance not the fact that he was a son. He was bargaining like a hireling. Most commentators agree that this brother was concerned about the inheritance. This brother's thought was, "when Dad dies it will all be mine." The focus was on the things and in the future, not the father in present time.
After his misfortune the younger brother began to miss his father. He realized how much he needed his father. Now working as someone's servant, he realized his father's generosity toward his servants. Even the servants had better than he. Not feeling worthy of being called a son anymore, he thought he could bargain with his father to become a servant. Not feeling worthy to sit at the table and eat of the bread, he thought he could eat from the crumbs that fell on the ground, and be better off than his present condition (Matthew 15:27). (This showed repentance).
Oh, what a surprise for him, when his father received him and restored him to his previous position. Now, he began to understand his father: full of grace and mercy, forgiving. The son was now grateful for his dad, not what the dad gave him. This son now knew that: You do not know how far or low you can go until you get there. When he hit rock bottom he reached out to his father who was waiting with stretched out arms for him. This was something the eldest son never knew of his father. (it is possible to be in the house and still be lost – as the lost coin). Did He need to go out and sin to know this?
Do we need to experience the world to see how sinful we are? Do we need to hit rock bottom to realize how much we need the Lord? I say that blessed is he who believes the Lord about his condition and need for grace before he hits rock bottom. Blessed is he who believes God when God tells them you are man, nothing human is foreign to you. Blessed is he believes God when God tells them, there go you, but for my grace. Blessed is he who realizes that they need as much grace as the one in death row and receive it before they get to death row. How different would the parable have been had the two sons taken time to really know their father? Some say what you do not know will not hurt you, but in this case it did. Not knowing the father hurt them.
Same it is with Paul. He says in Philippians that to know Christ is above all things. Let us read Phillipians 3: 7 – 10,
Phi3:7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.
Phi3:8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,
Phi3:9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:
Phi3:10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
We could argue that Paul was saying that not knowing Christ was hurting more than all the injuries he suffered for following Christ. If Knowing Christ is eternal life (John 17:3) then not knowing Him is eternal death. So, not knowing Christ will not only hurt you, it will kill you. Notice what He tells those whom He is forced to reject, "I know you not" (Matthew 25:12; Luke 13:25, 27). Christ does not want you to die. So He invites us all, "Give me a chance, get to know me."