Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Big Brother Syndrome

This year, I plan to preach through the parables of Jesus. I'm excited about this...these are, after all, the greatest stories ever told--in terms of their impact on the world. I started last Sunday with the Parable of the Prodigal Son. As I said then, it should be called, "The Story of the Two Lost Sons." We looked at the part of the story we're all familiar with: The rebellious younger son's odyssey from runaway to reconciliation. But this week, we'll look at the older son; this is the part of the story that most of us (preachers and, er, "normal" people) never pay attention to. But considering the audience Jesus was speaking to (see Luke 15:1-2), the older brother is really the main character of the story.

As I said last Sunday, we all tend to be either rebels or rule-keepers. And we religious folks mainly fall into the latter category. We may have had our wild-haired days, but most of us have settle down into respectability. So we have much more in common with that older son. As we'll find out this Sunday, that's not such a good thing. Here's a great quote from Tim Keller's book, The Prodigal God:

Jesus’ teaching consistently attracted the irreligious while offending the Bible-believing, religious people of His day. However, in the main, our churches today do not have this effect. The kind of outsiders Jesus attracted are not attracted to contemporary churches, even our most avant-garde ones. We tend to draw conservative, buttoned-down, moralistic people. The licentious and liberated or the broken and marginal avoid church. That can only mean one thing. If the preaching of our ministers and the practice of our parishioners do not have the same effect on people that Jesus had, then we must not be declaring the same message that Jesus did. If our churches aren’t appealing to younger brothers, they must be more full of elder brothers than we’d like to think.

Are you an "older brother?" And if so, what can we do about it? That's what we'll talk about this Sunday.

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