Zac Poonen - Inspirational
The elder son (Luke 15:25-32) can be taken to symbolize a Christian worker. If the father in the story is a type of God, it would be legitimate to consider the son as a type of an active Christian - for we see him in the parable coming home after a day's work in his father's fields. Here was no lazy young man, sitting at home and enjoying his father's wealth. Here was one who worked hard for his father, one who apparently loved his father more than his younger brother did - for after all, he did not leave home and waste his father's wealth, like the latter. He was apparently more devoted, but actually, as we shall see, just as selfish as his younger brother. It is the picture of a believer active in the Lord's work and apparently full of devotion to his Lord but still centred in himself.
God created this world with certain laws built into it. If those laws are violated, there will be some form of loss or injury. Consider one law for example: God has ordained that the earth should revolve around the sun. If the earth had a will of its own and decided one day that it would no longer be centred in the sun, but would only revolve around itself, there would be no change of seasons and soon all life on earth would perish. Death would enter in.
In the same way, Adam was created to be centred in God. The day he refused God as his Centre and chose to be centred in himself - this is what was implied in his choosing to eat of the tree that God had forbidden - he died, as God had said he would.
There is a lesson here for us: In the measure in which our Christian life and service are centred in ourselves, in that measure we shall experience spiritual death - in spite of our being born again and in spite of our fundamentalism. And all unconsciously, we shall be ministering spiritual death to others too. We may have a reputation as keen and zealous workers for the Father (as the elder son perhaps had), but we may still merit the rebuke of the Lord, "I know your reputation as a live and active (Christian), but you are dead" (Revelation 3:1 - LB). This is a tragic but dangerous possibility in Christian work. Many a Christian worker lives on the reputation he has built up for himself. Looked up to by others, he is often unconscious of the fact, that God sees him in an altogether different light. Never having been delivered from self-centredness himself, he is unable to deliver others - even if he preaches beautifully!
And so, a warning is given for all of us in the story of the elder son.
Excerpt from the book: Beauty for Ashes by Zac Poonen