Unconditional Love, Yeah right…
March 19, 2015 1 Comment
If you loved me…you’d take me to the movies! If you really loved me…you would have bought me that Coach purse! If I want to, I could spend the next hour listing all the ways that I could have proved my love by doing, acting, buying or going somewhere with or for another person in my life.
We have all had that someone in our life who came up with something we could/should do that would somehow prove
that we really loved them or cared for them. Children do this all the time to their parents, trust me, I know from first hand experience. I have done it! My children have done it! But, I am convinced that spouses, significant others, committed partners, and even boyfriends/girlfriends are the most guilty. Guilty of using this selfish tactic to get what they want from the ones who care for them the most. I am fairly certain you’ve done this too, and maybe more than once.
This got me to thinking, and has caused me some concern as it pertains to my understanding of the Bible and how the blessings of God are doled out on those he loves. I know, You think I am bordering on heresy here by even questioning the long held teachings of the Christian Faith, but I can’t seem to wrap my head around what more and more is looking like some conditional based scheme. I could be wrong and simply misunderstand what my 40+ years of following Christ, studying the Bible, and hearing 1000+ sermons have lead me to conclude. If I am wrong, please feel free to offer your perspective.
As a parent and grandparent, I have experienced many joys and have fabulous memories of times spent with each child. There have also been those moments where, something they have said or done, has totally shocked me or it mad me so mad that I’ve wanted to put my head through a wall. But never once has one of those actions caused me to change or question the fact that I love(d) them. I do not have a manual full of rules and regulations they have to abide by as a prerequisite to being shown love from me. I love them because they are a part of me. As a parent, this is one bond that cannot be broken by words or actions, regardless of how hurt or disappointed I may be. The bottom line is, I LOVE THEM! This is UNCONDITIONAL LOVE in it’s purest form. You may not always agree with what they say, approve of what they are doing or condone their actions, but you love them just the same.
So I started to think of what other types of relationships might involve Unconditional love and couldn’t find any other. At first I thought about how I could apply Unconditional love to romantic relationships, but realized that even long married couples have a conditional relationship with their spouse. Love for another person, who is not your child, is often highly conditional with set boundaries or limits, and if those are crossed will terminate the feelings of love. Now, it could happen in that moment or it could happen over time, but eventually the feelings of love fade away because the object of our affection has crossed the invisible line we have placed around our heart.
Growing up as a “Preachers Kid”, attending Seminary (well, I was enrolled and went some), and attending church for 40+ years, I have heard it preached, taught, sang about and rationalized, that God’s love is unconditional. But….. is it really? Could it be that it is merely the ‘Church’ offering this unconditional love, as long as you, the parishioner follows the rules of the local assembly? As a follower of Christ, we are told that we are to love one another and in doing this we fulfill the law (Romans 13:8). Every scripture that talks about love says that we are to love others as we love ourselves. If we love ourselves unconditionally, then our love for others had better match or we have failed the great commission. But, I don’t often see the Church as a whole treating others with the type of unconditional love that a parent has for a child, so is it possible that we have all fallen short of what it means to be a true Christ follower? Is it possible that we’ve focused too much of our energy to trivial matters and political infighting over insignificant matters that we’ve caused God to turn his back on us for failing to follow his simple idea of loving one another unconditionally? Loving the gay neighbor, Muslim neighbor, Jewish neighbor, black neighbor, Asian neighbor, liberal neighbor, conservative neighbor in the same way we love ourselves is what we were told to do, right? So why do we find it so hard to accept those that are different than ourselves?
Some of you are probably saying to yourselves “I do love them, I just hate the sin”. The old “Love the sinner, hate the sin” line that so many throw around like it makes them some kind of super hero. That is a cop out and we all know it. You either love them unconditionally or we have failed!