Mmmmm. So good. There is so much packed into this book. Something for everybody. All the wild crazy ‘sinners’ (well, we all are, aren’t we), all the staid ‘perfect’ moralists, and everything in between and even those who just really love Jesus and are resting in His love for them at the moment. 🙂
In this chapter we see: (excerpts from Keller, Timothy (2008-09-25). The Prodigal God Riverhead Trade.)
*Elder brothers’ inability to handle suffering arises from the fact that their moral observance is results-oriented. The good life is lived not for delight in good deeds themselves, but as calculated ways to control their environment.
*We also see that the elder brother has a strong sense of his own superiority. He points out how much better his own moral record is than the lover of prostitutes.
*This dynamic becomes exceptionally intense when elder brothers pride themselves above all for their right religion. If a group believes God favors them because of their particularly true doctrine, ways of worship, and ethical behavior, their attitude toward those without these things can be hostile. Their self-righteousness hides under the claim that they are only opposing the enemies of God.
*As Richard Lovelace has written: “[ People] who are no longer sure that God loves and accepts them in Jesus, apart from their present spiritual achievements, are subconsciously radically insecure persons. . . . Their insecurity shows itself in pride, a fierce, defensive assertion of their own righteousness, and defensive criticism of others.
*Elder brother self-righteousness not only creates racism and classism, but at the personal level creates an unforgiving, judgmental spirit.
*Another sign of those with an “elder brother” spirit is joyless, fear-based compliance.
*Ultimately, elder brothers live good lives out of fear, not out of joy and love.
*As long as you are trying to earn your salvation by controlling God through goodness, you will never be sure you have been good enough for him. You simply aren’t sure God loves and delights in you.
*As we said, the younger brother knew he was alienated from the father, but the elder brother did not. That’s why elder-brother lostness is so dangerous.
*When we see the attitude of the elder brother in the story we begin to realize one of the reasons the younger brother wanted to leave in the first place. There are many people today who have abandoned any kind of religious faith because they see clearly that the major religions are simply full of elder brothers. They have come to the conclusion that religion is one of the greatest sources of misery and strife in the world. And guess what? Jesus says through this parable— they are right. The anger and superiority of elder brothers, all growing out of insecurity, fear, and inner emptiness, can create a huge body of guilt-ridden, fear-ridden, spiritually blind people
*Everybody knows that the Christian gospel calls us away from the licentiousness of younger brotherness, but few realize that it also condemns moralistic elder brotherness.
*Our big cities are filled with younger brothers who fled from churches in the heartland that were dominated by elder brothers.
*We discovered, however, that younger brothers were willing to come to our church because they saw that we made a clear distinction between the gospel and religious moralism, and that provided an opportunity in which they could explore Christianity from a new perspective.
*It is natural for younger brothers to think that elder brotherness and Christianity are exactly the same thing. But Jesus says they are not. In his parable, Jesus deconstructs the religiosity that is one of the main problems with the world. In this parable Jesus says to us, “Would you please be open to the possibility that the gospel, real Christianity, is something very different from religion?” That gives many people hope that there is a way to know God that doesn’t lead to the pathologies of moralism and religiosity.
*If you have not grasped the gospel fully and deeply, you will return to being condescending, condemning, anxious, insecure, joyless, and angry all the time.
*He clearly wants us to take some radically different approach, but what is it? Where do we find it? We will find the answer when we realize that Jesus deliberately left someone out of this parable. He did this so that we would look for him and, finding him, find our own way home at last.
~Ciao for now