Last week Jesus’ story was some real good news — the Father comes running to us even when we’re covered in pig slop and smell of body odor (metaphorically. Or maybe for real, come to think of it.)
But it doesn’t end there.
Some people have never run away. Some have stuck around. Sometimes out of love for the Father, but sometimes from a mere sense of duty, or even reward. That kind of service doesn’t beget joy…it begets entitlement. And disappointed entitlement = bitterness.
The elder brother in this story faces a choice: to let his bitterness consume him like the party guests are consuming their feast? Or to accept the abundant life the father has given to both him and his brother, and enter in.
For meditation and discussion:
- Have you ever “done your duty” without love, or joy? What was it like?
- In your journey of faith, have you ever switched which character you identify? What caused the switch?
- If the elder brother was sitting with you now, what would you say to him? Try actually saying it and let your imagination create a dialogue between you and him.
- Do you have any built up bitterness growing within you?
The truth is that bitterness that takes root can consume us, and the first thing we lose is the joy of being a part of the Kingdom of God in this life. But it needn’t hold us back.
Give yourself permission to bring to God whatever may be holding you back from him — God knows about it already — because his doors are wide open for you.