“For God to apply [the word compassion] to himself is radical. This is the language of attachment. . . . The love of attachment makes you vulnerable to suffering, and yet that is what God says about himself. . . . God’s compassion is not something abstract but concrete. It plays out not just in his attitude but in his actions toward human beings.”- Timothy Keller
“And the LORD said, ‘You had compassion for the plant, which you did not plant, you did not make grow, and which came into being and perished in one night. And should I not have compassion for Nineveh, that great city?’ “- Jonah 4:10-11
As Timothy Keller moves on in Chapter 9 of The Prodigal Prophet, he contrasts the “love of benevolence” with the “love of attachment.” The first love involves doing good and helpful things for people — even if you dislike them. Thus, this love is an exercise of the will. However, with “the love of attachment” you love someone because your heart binds with them in attraction and loving desire.
But, Pastor Keller notes, most of our deepest attachments as human beings are involuntary. For example, Jonah didn’t make a conscious decision to affectionately attach his heart to the castor oil plant. Hence, Pastor Keller explains:
“We need many things, and we get emotionally attached to things that meet those needs. God, however, needs nothing. He is utterly and perfectly happy in himself, and he doesn’t need us. So how could he get attached to us? The only answer is that an infinite, omnipotent, self-sufficient divine being loves only voluntarily.”
In conclusion, Pastor Keller observes, many people exist in a spiritual fog. Because they possess no idea of what they should be living for or the meaning of their lives. Nor do they have any guide to tell right from wrong.
However, like God, we need to show them compassion. Thus, the sadness of their condition saddens us. Certainly, this makes us deeply uncomfortable. But it’s the character of compassion.
Today’s question: What Bible verses help you speak the language of attachment? Please share.
Tomorrow’s blog: “A pretty comfortable life”