Monday, May 23, 2011

The Lost Son: Naming The Older Son

As I mentioned a few days ago, though I relate to the younger brother in the Prodigal Son Parable (Luke 15), the undeserving son who is unconditionally restored by his Father.

I also relate to the older brother. The Son who tries to be faithful, living in the presence of the Father, trying to do all the right things, and thinks he is more deserving than others.

(To get a better understanding of where I am coming from, read chapter 7 of "Love Wins" by Rob Bell. There he writes about our stories verses God's stories about us.)

Of course there is much to say about how the older son gets upset when his rebellious brother is welcomed home and how he even refuses to attend the party the Father throws.

We all have our moments when Grace seems very unfair and we are tempted to think that we get to pick and choose who God should show mercy to, because after all, though we claim it's not by works, we also believe that we have in one way or another earned the Father's favor.

But with sticking with the theme from the last post, I want to focus on the story the older son is telling.

He is indeed upset that there is a party for the rebellious son, the one who has been living it up all these years while he has been at home serving the Father. He is so angry he refuses to attend the party.

The older son claims that he has never had so much as a goat given to him by the Father when all he has ever wanted to do was celebrate with some friends.

This is the story the older son is telling. A story about entitlement and dissatisfaction. Though he has been invited to the party he refuses to attend because he isn't happy with the "undeserving" people who are there. Though he is at the same party as the younger son, its much more like hell for him (An insight that Bell points out).

I relate to the older son, because though I love the fact that grace isn't fair and i believe it is very wide and inclusive, there are always "those people" that I have to constantly remind myself that, "yes, they also belong to the Father and he also loves them."

I usually interpret the older son to be the "exclusive" Christians, those who think only a select few make it into the party, the few that happen to think exactly like they do. In doing this, naming the older son, I usually become just like the Older son because I usually don't desire to party with those people. So I end up missing out on the party because of who is in attendance.

I begin to tell the same story the older brother is telling. A story that involves me excluding people for being exclusive.

But then there is good news, there is yet another story that the Father insist is true.

First of all, since the son refuses to go into the party, the Father comes out to get him. What a Beautiful picture.

And then the Father tells his version of the older son's story by saying...

"My son, you are always with me and everything I have is yours."

Is this what we are often missing? What we so long for and desire we actually have always had? We are often so busy focussing on other people, if they are in or out, or whether or not they deserve to be in, that we miss what the Father has in store for us, right here, right now.

1 comment:

GailNHB said...

Amen, brother. Amen. Well written. Thanks for sharing your heart and your story with us. We have all been there - and we all spend a lot of time there, don't we? Naming the insiders (which includes us, of course) and naming a far larger group of outsiders (all of "those people" - whoever they may be). Convicting truths that cause us to look back into the face of the Loving Father who invites us to the party again and again, with unquenchable love, patience, and mercy.

He is sooooo good, isn't he?