THE OLDER SON
Some Christians come from a life of bad choices involving drugs, alcohol, and wild college days. But when they discover Jesus, they turn from their old lives, and begin following Him.
That’s not my story.
My story is actually the opposite. I was the kid who was raised in the church, in a family where my dad was a pastor. I attended the University of California Berkeley, and continually said no to the daily (and nightly) options they offered me. I tried to always make the right decision because I loved Jesus.
But Christianity isn’t Karma, and I began to discover that quickly. My Christian lifestyle didn’t mean that I’d be the star football player, or the most looked up to leader on the field. And to be honest with you, I struggled with that.
I can relate to the story of the Prodigal Son, because in that story, I see a little of myself in the Older Brother.
11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.
13 “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. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
17 “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! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 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.
21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
22 “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. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.
25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’
28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’
31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”
Whenever anyone teaches about that passage, the emphasis is always on the younger brother or the father. But the Older Brother represents so many of us, too.
We look at God and say, “Hey. What about me? I’ve been living right all these years. When do I get my reward? When do I get my platform?”
But just like in Jesus’ story, God doesn’t owe us a direct answer. The closest thing to an answer we get is that we have been given the gift of “always being with the Father”, and knowing that all He has is somehow ours.
I’ve since come to realize that older sons can be just as far away from the father as younger sons. I share my full story on The Increase website in more detail. I invite you to head to that site now, and experience how the Father has run to meet me, too.