In the 90’s and 00’s it seemed like every rom-com movie ended a traffic jam or a crowded airport where someone had to make a run for it in order to catch the person they loved. It was usually the one who didn’t particularly deserve the love of the other person, and somehow running absolved them of their faults so they could live happily ever after. After the third or fourth movie this scene lost it emotional power for me, and I developed a strong cynicism towards the story device.
The funny thing is, Nora Ephron (the ultimate-rom com screen writer of the aforementioned era) did not invent running towards love. It’s actually in the bible. I didn’t notice it until this last year, perhaps my cynicism blinded me to it, yet there it is in the gospel of Luke.
In Luke 15 Jesus tells a few parables about what the kingdom of heaven is like. First there’s a lost sheep that the shepherd leaves 99 sheep to find. Then there is a lost coin that is found and everyone around the owner of the coin is invited to a huge celebration. Finally there is the prodigal son. The younger son asks for his half of the inheritance before his father’s death. He wastes all of it and ends up at rock bottom. After a while he decides to go home and beg to become a servant if only his father will take him back in.
This is where we see the running, “And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.” (Luke 15:20 NKJV emphasis added) After this the father accepts the son as his own and the son is restored back into the family. The father throws a huge celebration and everyone but the older brother is pretty happy about how it all turned out.
What’s interesting to me is that the bible flips the rom-com formula on its head. In the movies it’s the one who wronged the other person who is doing the running. They’re making an atonement for their wrongdoing. But here it’s the one who was wronged that is running. The prodigal father, as some theologians call him, is the one who makes atonements for the sins of the son. Just like God, who sent Jesus to atone for our sins.
God is running towards us. It’s for love that He’s running, His love for us. Our Father in heaven loves us with an everlasting love that is greater than any wrong we have ever done. Our sin no longer has to come between us and Jesus, because He overcame it at the cross. When we give our lives to Jesus sin loses its power over us and we are restored into God’s family, much like the prodigal son.
There aren’t too many rom-com movies in the theatres anymore. Perhaps we don’t associate running for it with “true love” anymore. But we still have the bible, and it tells a story about the truest of loves: God, who loves us, and is running towards us so we might be reunited with each other and live within His everlasting love.