He was waiting

I linked to Abraham Piper's blog entry this weekend, and this is an exerpt:
Because the deepest concern is not your child’s actions, but his heart, don’t create too many requirements for coming home. If he has any inkling to be with you, it is God giving you a chance to love him back to Jesus. Obviously there are some instances in which parents must give ultimatums: “Don’t come to this house if you are...” But these will be rare. Don’t lessen the likelihood of an opportunity to be with your child by too many rules.

If your daughter smells like weed or an ashtray, spray her jacket with Febreze and change the sheets when she leaves, but let her come home. If you find out she’s pregnant, then buy her folic acid, take her to her twenty-week ultrasound, protect her from Planned Parenthood, and by all means let her come home. If your son is broke because he spent all the money you lent him on loose women and ritzy liquor, then forgive his debt as you’ve been forgiven, don’t give him any more money, and let him come home. If he hasn’t been around for a week and a half because he’s been staying at his girlfriend’s—or boyfriend’s—apartment, plead with him not to go back, and let him come home.
As I read that, one of the most potent passages of the NT came to mind, and I wanted to connect the dots for you who, perhaps, do not see it:
    "But when he came to himself, he said, 'How many of my father's hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants."' And he arose and came to his father.

    But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.' But the father said to his servants, 'Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.' And they began to celebrate.
    [Luke 15:11-32]
Listen to me, please: this is at the center of the New Testament, the bull's eye. If we get our systematics right, and we have all our apologetics lined out, but when the lost one comes to our door because there is no place left for them in the world we meet them with legalism or presuppositionalism or intellectualism or some other thing which is only part of our Christian duty instead of the fact that we saw him from a long way off because we love him and were looking for him, we have failed to understand who God wants us to be.

We should be doing these doctrinal things and also the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness.

I am not knocking apologetics or rigorous orthodoxy: I love these things dearly. But the foundation of apologetics is the image of God in a man or a woman, and if we seek to plead with that image but tread on it because it is dirtied up by the world or one's one sinfulness (either theirs or ours), we have forgotten that we are seeking joy in Heaven and should be ministers of this kind of joy here on Earth.