I grew up in a house with one sibling: a much younger sister. My world: rock band, year-round sports, hockey card collection. Her world: none of the above. We were very different but despite being the tormenting big brother, we co-existed pretty well. (She might have a different interpretation 😃) The prodigal story is a story of two siblings. Enter character number two: the older brother.  He appears to be the super-diligent, over-commited, stickler-type who allows regiment reign over relationship. He watched his delinquent brother disrespect his father and disregard his inheritance. From the sidelines you can almost hear the “I told you so” in his voice. So upon the return of his broken brother his response is one of a resentful, angry, cynic: “Why welcome such as waste back into our HOME? He’s got what he deserved! Nothing!”  When the Father responds by rolling out the welcome mat he is incensed: this is unfair, unjust, and just plain wrong!  The older brother was living at HOME but his heart was from HOME. He too was a was a prodigal, he just not acted on his heart. The place of the older brother may actually be more sinister and difficult to manager since it hides itself in denial and self-righteousness. Systems and institutions become warehouses of injustice and politics. People and their needs become inconveniences and annoyances. Events and ministry become ritual and routine. When I become the resentful cynic I fall into the trap Jesus described: “And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own?” (Matthew 7:3, NLT). Prodigals don’t have to leave HOME to lose their way.  The Father’s welcome is no different for the sinner or the skeptic. He invites us into a space where forgiveness and grace rule the day.  Now that sounds like HOME!
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Author Dean Brenton

Executive Director of Ministry Development & Strategic Initiatives PAONL, YCNL Director, Pastor, Husband, Dad, Diakonoi, Christ-follower.

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