Years ago as I first heard this phrase with the view God places no boundaries on His love for us I did what I learned to do after I had first begun to follow Jesus: study the scriptures see if this was truth.
The problem with truth is we humans often believe what we want to believe based more on personal desire than actual fact.
Do I want to believe God IS love? Yes. But of course John in 1 John tells me He is! Do I want to believe He loves me and us “no matter what”? Of course!
Then again there are plenty of texts throughout the New Testament alone that speak of God’s obvious, even extreme displeasure -and what most would deem severe judgment toward not only sin itself but those habitually practicing it.
On the one hand “salvation by works”, the concept we can somehow “earn” the mercy, grace (“unmerited favor”!) eternal life and yes, love of God is clearly not taught in His Book.
So what about that term “unconditional”?
Even a casual read of Scripture tells us God is nowhere close to affirming all human thoughts, actions and choices, not even among the church, those who by faith follow Jesus.
My study of scripture as well as comments made by centuries full of wise theologians brought me to the conclusion that God loves sinners like myself and all who have ever lived -but the real issue is:
We do not love God unconditionally.
We place conditions on Him and when He apparently does not operate within our will we reject Him.
Unconditional love? It’s a two-way street like any relationship.
From our side it can look like this:
Job 13.15 “Though He slays me I will hope in Him.”
Or it can look like Job 2.6 “Do you still cling to your integrity? Curse God and die.”
When we hurt, when our loved ones suffer, when things go against our will, slowly over time, with great difficulty or with deep anger and sadness, concluding we’ve been abandoned or indeed that there is no God at all -we abandon Him.
So I have been pondering this, that God’s love is real, that He being perfect doesn’t change while we being flawed must trust Him and cooperate with His Spirit or there is zero hope that we will ever change.
His boundaries for us promote spiritual growth and character which He absolutely desires to work in us. He sets His boundaries for each of us as a loving Father though at times we judge Him as harsh and uncaring rather than loving due to them and the calamaties that befall us as we ignore -or seek to re-write them.
If we’re being honest we are not always happy with the process of our loving God creating loving saints who think, behave and sacrificially love more and more like Jesus.
It seems obvious we place conditions on God while often ignoring and somtimes blatantly rebelling against Him and His conditions as revealed in His Word.
The issue is not His love for us, it is rather whether we love Him back regardless of the boundaries and demands we place on Him.
Things worth considering along our faith journey?
As always, thanks for stopping by! -Glenn