Monday, December 5, 2011

Unconditional Love

A number of years ago I attended a church camp and learned about unconditional love. This scripture sat in my head and in my heart about it….
1st John 4 7-12
7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

At the time I didn’t ‘get’ scripture like I do now…though even now I struggle to comprehend just how amazing the bible is, how amazing our God is. But no, at the time I didn’t quite ‘get it’. What I did get out of the lessons that went with that scripture was that true love has absolutely no conditions put on it…and that is all types of love for all types of people… spouses, children, family, friends etc. . But, what is unconditional love? We all want to feel loved. We think about it, hope for it, fantasize about it, go to great lengths to achieve it, and feel that our lives are incomplete without it. But do we really understand what it is? Do we really understand how God meant for us to love one another? And do we have any idea how our ideas of love get so messed up?
Unconditional love can be defined as a term that means to love someone regardless of one's actions or beliefs. It matters not who you are, what you do or don’t do for or to someone, it is not hinged on behaviour or morals, socio-economic status or where you live. It is just love…simple and pure.
Simple??? Well maybe not for so many, as unconditional love does not occur easily for many people and can be very delusional. Our misconceptions of unconditional love began in early in our lives, where we saw that when we did all the right things—when we were clean, quiet, obedient and otherwise “good”—people “loved” us. They smiled at us and spoke in gentle tones. But we also saw that when we were “bad,” all those signs of “love” instantly vanished. In short, we were taught by consistent experience that love was conditional, that we had to buy “love” from the people around us with our words and behavior.
So many people live on this kind of love. They shower others with attention and gifts in order to be loved. They almost outright tell children that they will love them ‘more’ if they can just behave. The damage this does is just enormous. If each time you give something to someone they tell you they love you how will you feel at the end of the day? Loved? No, because you’d know that you were loved only because you gave something tangible, that you were loved because you paid for it. We simply can’t feel satisfied by love we pay for. We can feel loved only when it is spontaneously, unconditionally given to us. The instant we do anything at all to win the approval or admiration of other people—with what we say, what we do, how we look—we are paying for the attention and affection we receive, and we can’t feel genuinely loved.
There is only one kind of love that can make us whole, complete us and give us the happiness we want and that is unconditional love. It is so different than the love that so many of us have known all of our lives. It is caring about the happiness of another person without any thought for where it will get us, what we will get from it. It is also unconditional love when others care about our happiness without any thought of what they might get out of it.
This is the kind of love God has for us in a sense. He does not stop loving us if we do things that displease him or even are against his teachings. There really isn’t anything we can do to stop God from loving us. We can sin but all we need to do is ask for His forgiveness and it is granted. And even those who don’t ask for it, those who never have a personal relationship with Christ, those who are never able to see God’s love for us…. Even all of those millions of people, God loves. He only asks that we love Him and through that we can truly and unconditionally love others.

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