Growing up in a Christian school, I loved having a few bad kids around. Not because I hung out with them or did what they did. I was too spiritual for that.
I loved the bad kids, because they made me look good by comparison. When someone get's caught smoking, watching a forbidden movie, or getting too close to his girlfriend, it was a great opportunity for me to stick out my chest a little further and engage in good, old-fashioned gossip.
Of course Christian good kids don't call it gossip, because talking about somebody who is in sin is never gossip. It's "concern." And the really good ones convert gossip into "prayer requests." So while the bad kid was on trial, the good kids would engage in a bit of punditry, discussing the possible ramifications, and why we were so enlightened as to not fall into those terribly sinful traps.
This is really nothing new. In fact, there was a group of religious good people in Jesus' day. And like us, they treasured their status as the good guys. And they had a ready list of bad guys, people who violated their man-centered system of laws. They brandished that list anytime their own spirituality was questioned.
So, Jesus told a story. It's one we've heard quite a few times. It's the story of the prodigal son. At first the Pharisees liked this story. A son who dishonors his father and spoils his inheritance and gets a job, of all jobs, feeding unkosher pigs? At this point in the story, they are just loving Jesus' narrative skills. They had a new person to not be.
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