Sunday April 23, 2023 | Kishore Vellody
Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them. “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 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. 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.’ So he got up and went to his father. “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.’ “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. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.
In this sermon, Dr. Kishore Vellody shares his story about how truth has been “unraveled” in his own life – how his journey from a hard drinking atheist in college to one who is passionate about the love of God has played out in serendipitous and unpredictable ways.
In the Unraveling Truth series, we have been exploring specific issues that have kept people from God’s love and offered truths about God that shows us what it truly means to be a Christ follower. This sermon offers a personal story of how this truth of God has come to life for Kishore, who grew up in a Hindu home without any knowledge of Jesus, and went to college as a rather committed atheist. While there, he drowned his pain in alcohol while his roommate, whom he thought would be his drinking buddy, discovered the love of Jesus. He describes his excursion into this life as a departure into the “far country” like that of the younger son in the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15. He was living in despair, yet while there his roommate simply loved him where he was. Then he met the woman who would eventually become his wife, someone who grew up in the church and knew the Bible through and through.
This caused him to read the Bible, expecting to find a judgmental angry deity who is anything but love. To his surprise, Kishore saw the God who is represented by the father in the parable of the prodigal son, who goes out to meet the son in the far country, and when the son returns home the father lavishes his love upon him with embraces and kisses. This kind of God is a far cry from what Kishore expected to find when he began reading the Bible.
Upon giving his life to Christ, Kishore found himself with great passion and zeal for the things of God. The love that he experienced from God was something that he naturally wanted to share with others. However, over time religion began to set in. He did not know any better because he was simply trusting the people in the church where he worshipped. Then he went to church on the Sunday after 9/11 and saw that the church was emphasizing things like patriotism, vengeance, and hatred toward those who had facilitated the attack on the Twin Towers. This caused him great consternation and caused him to look for alternative views about God’s ways. As he looked, he found the teachings of Woodland Hills and the call to be a blessing to our enemies.
This experience of God’s love has generated a continual growth in learning to share that love with others. Rather than judging people, God calls us to love indiscriminately, in the same way that God has loved us. We give away what we have received. We are to follow God into the far country, breaking free from religion that judges and excludes, and meet people with God’s love.