Thursday, January 27, 2011

Who Is Against Being Loved Unconditionally?

WHO in this world would not want to experience unconditional love and total and complete acceptance of who they are, as they are?!

But yet why do so many people in this world still keep themselves at a distance from God? In some cases I guess it could be that pride keeps them from accepting unconditional love. But I think in many more cases it's because for some reason or another they simply don’t believe that God loves them unconditionally.

Why is that? I think one big reason is because the people who claim to know God have not represented Him and testified of Him – nor even really, truly believed in Him or known Him – as Agape Love. That is, as true, unconditional love. Love with no conditions? It's a nice “concept,” but do believers really believe it?!

Could it perhaps be said that Christian believers believe in the concept of unconditional love, but yet haven't fully and genuinely embraced it and put their full confidence in the truth of it? So with this anemic view of God's love, they go around representing the God that they actually believe in – the God of conditional love who doesn't fully accept people until they themselves somehow make themselves acceptable enough to Him. The conditional love that they show others is simply an expression of what they really believe about God.

To be clear, I'm not talking about the fact that in our human weakness we all fall short of expressing perfect love toward others. There's no human being who has ever loved me perfectly or unconditionally and I've certainly not always loved others as I would want to. But what I'm really getting at is that because Christians haven't really trusted in God's love as being unconditional, they've ended up treating others with a conditional kind of love (which isn't really love at all), and in the process have become far better known for being against the sins and lifestyles of others (at least the sins that are different from their own sins), rather than being known for having the beautiful feet of those who bring good news.

While Jesus, operating in God's unconditional love, was known for eating and drinking with sinners, and lifting them up and embracing them and drawing them into the world of the God's unconditional love, and saying that those people enter the Kingdom of God before others (...pause to reflect on that...!), Christians today are essentially known for looking down upon "sinners" and protesting the things they do, and shutting them out of the Kingdom of Heaven. They've put all kinds of conditions on God's unconditional love.

It's very easy see the outside of a person - the unfinished, unpolished version of the person that you are looking at. Therefore it's very easy to judge the person by what you see. But can you set aside what you see? Do you believe that the finished, perfected work of Jesus on the inside of a person is so much larger and effective than what you can see? Do you believe that God's love is unconditional? Do you believe that God loved the world so much that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life? Do you believe that God demonstrated His love in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us? Do you believe that Christ died for the ungodly? Do you believe that Jesus came into the world, not to condemn the world but to save the world? Do you believe that the gospel is good news?

Well then, shine up those good-news gospel-of-peace shoes of yours and put them on your beautiful feet and get out there and love people right where they are, just as they are! Accept them as they are. Embrace them as they are. Think about the conditions that you yourself may have put on God's unconditional love. Think about your focus on the shortcomings of others and your protesting of their lifestyles. Does any of it do anything to draw them any closer to God? Think about how the good news isn't for them when they change enough, but it's for them as they are. After all, it's for you, as you are, isn't it?! There is no other way for a person to receive unconditional love except as they are, without conditions!

Could it be that people are not against God and are not rejecting God, but rather are rejecting the distorted God that has been (mis)represented to them by those who call themselves His representatives - that is, the God of conditional love?  Who is against being loved unconditionally? So I say again, with your good news shoes on your beautiful feet, get out there and bring people glad tidings of good things. Give them a reason to believe in God's unconditional love. Give them some good news to believe for once!