The faces of rebellion

By Dave Henning / September 20, 2013

In Chapter 3 of The Prodigal God, Timothy Keller continues his discussion of moral conformity vs. self-discovery by comparing the responses of the two brothers, while taking special note that the sin of the younger brother is readily recognized by anyone.  Yet in the end it’s the younger son who is saved, while the elder brother remains lost.

Younger Son

1.  humiliates family, lives self-indulgent and dissolute life

2.  is totally out of control

3.  “bad” by conventional standards

4.  alienated from his father (God)

Elder Son 

1.  fastidiously obedient to his father

2.  completely self-controlled and self-disciplined

3.  “good” by conventional standards

4.  alienated from his father (God)

Pastor Keller points out that the elder son is losing his father’s love because of his goodness.  His pride in his moral record, as well as his self-righteousness, keeps him from sharing in his father’s feast.  In reality, both brothers are much more alike than it first appears.

Each brother tried to put himself in a position in which he controlled the father’s actions.  Neither son loved the father for his own sake, using him for their own self-controlled ends.  Different approaches- same rebellious behavior.

Today’s question: What role has a rebellious spirit played in your response to your ministry downsizing or vocation loss?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Redefining sin”

About the author

Dave Henning

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