Unconditional Love is an Oxymoron
All of my life I have heard Christians talk about the unconditional love of God. I’ve heard, and even spoken, about the love of God being without conditions, while people tend to love with conditions. As I think about love and what love really is, I have come to an understanding that “unconditional love” is really an oxymoron.
God does love us without conditions because He is love. Love is to be the standard by which all people will know who the true followers of Jesus are. Jesus tells his first followers to love others as He had loved them.
Think about a parent. Good parents do not love their children with conditions. They love them without conditions. They love their children, not for what they do or don’t do, but for who they are. They don’t love their children in spite of their children. They simply love their children because they are part of them.
Yet, I see so many people within the body of Christ that are better parents to their kids than what they believe God is to them. They will love their kids without conditions, yet somehow believe that God conditionally loves them.
Imagine your child coming to you and saying, “Dad, I know I am so unworthy of your love. I am just a worm. I am just a sinner that doesn’t even deserve to live under your roof. Dad, I am so undeserving of your love.” You’d probably flip out and ask what drugs they had been doing. You would not stand for such nonsensical talk. You would correct them and make sure they knew that your love for them has nothing to do with what they do or don’t do.
Why do we treat our children that way, yet feel God treats us differently? Why do we believe that God gives us a standard to live by but doesn’t live by that standard Himself? Many Christians seem to believe that God is a “do as I say, not as I do” kind of parent. God expects us to forgive others, even if they don’t ask for it, yet many Christians don’t believe that God will forgive unless you confess and repent. God says that we are to keep no records of wrong, yet many Christians believe that God is keeping an account of all our sins.
Now I know that some would argue that He is God Almighty and He can do what He wants. That is true, but I don’t see that manifested in Jesus, who is the perfect image of the Father. In Jesus, I see a God that is loving, kind compassionate and merciful. I also see a God that is tough on religion, pride, hypocrisy and people unwilling to forgive. In Jesus I see a God that would rather forgive and die for his enemies than to live without them.
That is love without conditions. That is what true love is.
True love is always concerned with the other person’s well-being, value and happiness. True love is being willing to put someone else’s needs before our own. True love is always without conditions.
If we believe that God loves us with conditions then how do we know what those conditions are? Some would say that God loves us when we obey. If that’s the case then we need to stop telling “sinners” that Jesus loves them and wants to save them. That would not be true because they are not obeying God.
If we believe that God loves us when we are living right, then wouldn’t that make us worthy of God’s love because somehow we are earning his love by doing what he wants?
If I can do something to make God love me then I become worthy of his love because of my actions. That’s not love . . . that’s reward. Unfortunately that is how many people give out their love….as a reward for other people’s right behaviors.
I don’t love my wife or kids because of what they do. I love them because they simply are! Even when my kids are rebellious, testing boundaries and my patience, I still love them without conditions. I will not stop loving them because of what they do or don’t do.
God values us as His creation, and as His children. Therefore, he loves us. Our value is determined by him not us, our actions or even our right believing. God can love us unconditionally because He places great value on who we are to Him.
I can love others unconditionally when I see their value over their actions. To love with conditions doesn’t benefit the person I am “trying” to love. It only benefits me as the person does what I want in order to get my love. It’s manipulation and it’s not love.
God’s love is never manipulative. His love is perfect and unconditional because He is love and he is the standard of what true love is. May we truly learn to love others as Jesus has loved us.