W. Austin Gardner
The Father's kisses
Updated: Jul 23, 2022
The rebellious, disrespectful, disillusioned, and demanding Prodigal Son is the focus of one of the most glorious moments in the Gospels. Yet the real highlight of that passage in Luke 15 is the radically gracious, generous, and forgiving father.
I love that story because it’s Eastern in its cultural tone. Normally, an Eastern father would never run toward his son. The typical Eastern son, with head bowed, would be quick to demonstrate obeisance to his father. However, this father is different. This father runs and, in what is considered by many to be the most intimate portrait of love in the Bible, kisses his son over and over again. Most versions of the Bible don’t translate these repeated kisses. The kisses of the father. Kisses that entwine forgiveness, celebration, and blessing.
The world longs for such kisses from the Father.
No one should be in a better position to fulfill this longing than the church. Who can give a better kiss than the church? A kiss without strings attached. A supernatural kiss that can set captives free. A kiss that inspires prodigals to remember real love and to come back home.
I sometimes think how sweet it would be if that were the reaction of every person, every family, every neighbor, every community, even every country, whenever they come into contact with those of us who follow Jesus, who make up the church.
I think it could happen.
I believe that today God is calling us in the church to become a different kind of movement, known for our kisses of compassion rather than our condemnations.
Dave Gibbons and Pulitzer Prize Winner J. J. Brazil, The Monkey and the Fish: Liquid Leadership for a Third-Culture Church (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2009).
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