When I preach on the parable of the prodigal son, I always get stuck on the elder brother. I wish there were a fifth gospel in the New Testament devoted to reaching out to that guy because he's everywhere in the congregation I serve, wearing many names and faces. Frankly, we depend on elder brothers to keep the place running. But I struggle to know how care for them.
I've tried giving elder brothers more stuff to do because they happily accept, and I've tried encouraging them to work to create a more just society because I know they think it's up to them to get things right. But both of these strategies miss the point of this parable—and the gospel of grace.