Are we ‘the other brother’?
By Mark Dehority
In Luke 15:11-32, Jesus tells us the parable of the prodigal son and his brother. The prodigal son takes his inheritance early, moves to a foreign land, squanders it and returns home empty-handed. His father welcomes him home and starts a celebration. His older brothers not happy.
The older brother has no sympathy for his prodigal brother. We could hear him say, “He made his bed, let him lay in it. Why should I give part of my share to my brother who wasted his share? He had the same opportunities I did and wasted them.”
The older brother did everything expected. He lived in a way that met his father's expectations.. He deserves a reward for his efforts.
I don't believe he understands his own brokenness or the wishes of his father.
Many of us are prodigals. I took the gifts God gave me and for most of my life spent them in the secular world. The only kingdom I built was the kingdom of my own.
The Father welcomed me home, and most of the brothers in my life welcomed me.
As I healed and put my priorities in order I started to feel like the other brother. I have what I need. I have taken care of me and mine. This started to affect my attitude about other broken people.
The world is full of prodigals who have wasted God's gifts. How should they be welcomed when they turn back to God and to his church?
Prodigals are broken people at the time they come to terms with their choices. How are they welcomed by our churches and families?
How many of us act like the older brother when it is time to forgive and welcome the broken? Our church is full of people who have played by the rules and lived lives like the “older brother.” What is God's task for them? How does God want them to welcome the broken?
Are the broken in our community comfortable coming to a church of “other brothers?” Do we help their Father welcome them home?
Please consider the last words of the parable. As the father addresses the other son, “Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. But, we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.”
Who is the prodigal, the brother and the Father?
Mark Dehority, deployed staff
General Commission on UM Men