Older Brother Syndrome 6

This weekend, I heard an incredible sermon on the Prodigal Son. This sermon further strengthened my belief that God’s Word is living, because despite the fact that I’ve heard this story a thousand times, I saw it in a new way.  I want to specifically look at one small section of the story. I don’t think I’m guilty of reading more into this than is intended:

Luke 15: 25-30

25“Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ 28But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, 29but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. 30But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’

The older son skipped the opportunity to celebrate the return of his younger brother.  He was upset that the father had chosen to bless the younger son. It was unfair. The younger son didn’t deserve it at all. He had wasted his inheritance on foolish living and prostitutes, yet the father was overjoyed to see his youngest son. He even ran out to greet him, and kissed him, and had him clothed in the finest robe.

The father in this story, showed a great act of grace and mercy. Out of the goodness of his heart, he decided to pour out extravagant blessings upon a very unworthy recipient. The older son didn’t understand. He just didn’t “get it”.

For the last couple of days, I’ve been questioning my own motives. I must admit, that on the surface I bare a striking resemblance to the older brother. I can see where an outsider would make that connection. After all, churches like Elevation and Newspring are being blessed. I think (despite the conferences and such) even they would admit that they are wildly unworthy. It appears that I am unhappy about it.  Older brother syndrome. I see that.

Something else I’ll admit: I am wholly unworthy of the Father’s blessings as well. While I am pretty strong on theology and doctrine, I am pretty weak on sharing the Gospel with the people I encounter in my daily existence. Sure, sometimes they notice that I don’t cuss much, or that I try not to gossip.  If they ask why, I might hint towards my belief in Christ, but in general, I live as if we have forever. We don’t. We are not even promised today. I know that many of my colleagues are completely lost in their sin…and I don’t care enough about their eternity in Hell to share the Gospel with them. I can give you a ton of excuses. I might even lose my job if I were to begin evangelizing co-workers. All that means is that I care more about my standard of living, than I care about the souls of the lost.

What does all this mean? Am I going to stop pointing out error where I see it? No. The stakes are too high. People are being led astray at an alarming rate, and I won’t be quiet. Some of the issues seem minuscule, but they have to be discussed. Deception starts with the small points. Overlooking even the tiniest venture from Scriptural truth will only lead to larger errors in the future.

What this does mean is that I have to rededicate myself to reaching the world with the Good News of Christ, starting right here in my office. My passion for purity of the Church has to be matched with a broken-heart for lost souls.

I won’t ignore error, and I won’t ignore the lost. I will try to join in the dance and celebration when Father decides to put His best robe on a younger brother.

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6 thoughts on “Older Brother Syndrome

  1. Corner Coffee Oct 28, 2009 1:34 pm

    It honestly takes a lot of spiritual maturity to be self-critical. We’re all guilty of something, no matter what it is.

    No amount of criticism of Noble/Furtick will make up for your trespasses.
    No amount of defense of Noble/Furtick will make up for mine.

    I appreciate the spirit with which this was written. It spoke to me as well. Thanks for the reminder. I know we all need it, including me.

  2. Paul Oct 28, 2009 2:35 pm

    great post!

  3. Paul C Oct 28, 2009 2:53 pm

    Excellent post: self-examination.

    I especially like this statement: “My passion for purity of the Church has to be matched with a broken-heart for lost souls.”

  4. Mike Oct 28, 2009 3:31 pm

    wise as serpent, harmless s a dove.
    it is a hard mix to get right, but we do have to renew our hearts and effort every day.

    thanks James

  5. keitho Oct 29, 2009 1:14 pm

    Great post. Thanks for the encouragement to press ahead.

  6. Sara Oct 29, 2009 1:41 pm

    well written! awesome thoughts… thanks for sharing!

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