SCRIPTURE: Luke 15:20 (NIV)
(The son) got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him.
Dr. Mitchell was impressing upon us that we are not under the Law when we're in Christ, but we're under a new law -- the law of LOVE. He used this to illustrate: In America there is a law stating a woman must take care of her child. So, a man comes to a new mother's home. He says "Are you taking care of your baby? The Law says you have to." The woman, tenderly holding her baby, said, "I don't need a law to make me take care of my baby." Why? Because she loves her baby! She feeds him, holds him, changes him because she loves him. I no longer need the Law because I'm under Christ -- a law of LOVE.
Would a law that states that we have to love work? Compassion is a strong emotion. If it is forced from without it is not genuine. If it is placed upon our shoulders like a yoke it will be seen as a burden. Compassion to be genuine must come from within.
Someone has written this observation: “It was in those who had recovered from the plague that the sick and the dying found most compassion.” We show compassion the best when we draw upon the experience of being in need of the same. Experience is a great teacher.
And yet, there is a level of compassion that is just a reality. It cannot be taught, it just is. It is the compassion of a parent for their child. It doesn’t matter the age of the child the compassion will always be there – genuine, honest, heartfelt – and this compassion motivates us at the deepest level. It cannot be explained or reasoned into existence. It is a reality.
It is this deeper level of love/compassion that God, the ever-present parent, has for us, the ever-present child. We have been loved even if we do not confirm that love. The Prodigal, in the biblical story, was always loved by his father even when he was far off. The love never stopped. It was genuine and heartfelt. And so it is with God’s love/compassion for us. It cannot be explained nor reasoned into existence. It just is!
We are all prodigal in one way or another. We are out in the world living the “high” life. We think that we don’t need the father … we are making it on our own. But there will come a time when something will click inside of us and we will realize that we really do need/want the love that can only come from the compassionate father. At that point and not until we will return to the father.
Thank you for loving us when we don’t deserve it. Thank you for waiting for us to return to you. Thank you for being the ever-present compassionate parent and welcoming us back “home”.