The other day, we had family over at our house for a cookout. It was a beautiful day, and my parents, my aunt and uncle, and I were sitting under the shade of a tree. We got onto the topic of the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32), when I asked who the brother in the story was supposed to represent. I knew that the father is God, and we (Christians) are the son, but I didn't really understand the other son. My uncle, Chip, brought up a great point.
He told me that the brother was us, members of the Church, after a lost brother or sister had come home. He said that we so often look at the brother with disgust. ‘How could someone act that way?’ we would say. But that brother in the story isn't there just for us to pass over and judge. It's there to show that we too can have misleading conduct or bad attitudes, whether we care to admit it or not, when someone repents. ‘Oh, there goes brother so-and-so again after the sermon, walking up front to ask for forgiveness. Well, I know it's just an act.’ I'm sure some of you have heard these words whispered in place of affirmation. Maybe you have said these words. Maybe the way you acted, or didn't act, didn’t need your words to show how you felt.
So, we have the brother’s example. An angry child, scoffing at his father. But on the other side, we have the Father’s example (I'll capitalize ‘Father’ in this passage, since we know who this really represents). The Father, before His child had even gotten near enough to the house, ran to His son, threw His arms around him, and kissed him. His son had come home. He didn't care that the son had taken his blessings and squandered them carelessly. His son was home, in His arms, right where he needed to be.
So, my question is, who are you today? Are you the brother, turning a blind eye to a fellow Christian who yearns for forgiveness? Or are you going to become like the Father, opening your arms to your brother at even the slightest sign of repentance. I hope you'll consider who you really are, open your eyes, and then open your arms.