“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.”
Oh we poor unfortunate “goodlings.” We who obey the laws. We who don’t make (too many) ripples. Where is the joy over us? Where is the excitement over where we have not been?
What am I talking about? Let me start at the beginning.
Have you even known a rebel who repented? Have you ever had a sibling who was going off the deep end and changed? We have all known people who were headed for ruin and made the change and righted their ways. We have all seen the joy that surrounds the returning of the lost one. However, why isn’t there that same joy for those who remained, for those who never ran?
For many of the recovered people that we know, recovery was the hardest thing for them. They were required to deny what had defined them and turn to what they knew to be right. They had to make what was really the “ultimate” sacrifice for them. Now they need acceptance and love. Is this why we react so favorably to them? We have seen, and been inspired by their struggle and now want them to know that they are home. We want them to know that no matter what happens again, we will be there.
However, what about those who have always remained? What do we give them? What do we do for them? Common responses might include, “They know we love them,” “They have always been here and don’t care if they are a big deal or not.” However, is that the truth. I see the result of the “They know we love them” on a daily basis when I see children who have never heard their parents say “I love you”. A simple “I Love You” from me brings them to tears. Somehow, I think that they want to be special too.
Taking this to the Bible seems to show that the prodigals got the same treatment. In fact, in the parable of the prodigal son, the older son asks his father, “why can’t you make a big deal about me?” The father responds by saying, “everything I have is yours, but your brother is back.” Sure dad, everything you have is mine, but I want you to make a big deal about me too.
So what am I saying? If we look at our lives, who are we neglecting because they are always “good kids”. As we celebrate with the angels in heaven over the return of a lost brother, are we also celebrating with the angels over the continued perseverance of the Christian brother to our side who has never done anything (that we know of) to tip the boat?