Pastor Ron Hunt
Christians know Jesus’ No. 1 command is to love unconditionally, with no exceptions, right? He makes it very clear that is how God loves. So, why then, do Christians keep putting up conditions between God’s love and people?
When you come into a church’s door that embraces this central teaching of Jesus, you sense that you are loved authentically and unconditionally. It not only feels good, but it also feels right spiritually.
I invite you to look with me at two New Testament passages.
“Perfect love casts out fear.” (1 John 4:18)
So, if God’s love is perfect, why be afraid? Has someone else made me afraid by saying God has conditions on me in order to be loved, forgiven, saved, accepted, embraced fully?
This love is “agape” in the New Testament, which is best translated as “unconditional love with reverence.” Jesus even commands, “Love your enemies.” If I am commanded to love my enemies, then that is rather unconditional, wouldn’t you say?
A few verses later in Matthew’s gospel, Jesus concludes this portion on loving our enemies with, “You must be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect.” Luke’s version of the concluding words on Jesus’ “love your enemies” teaching reads, “You must be merciful as your Heavenly Father is merciful.”
Both Matthew and Luke’s Greek words could also be translated “complete, entire, or whole.” These make even more sense.
So, our love is to be “complete, whole, or entire” as God’s love is. This helps the passage of loving our enemies unconditionally make more sense now. God’s love is complete, entire, for the whole world, even our enemies. Ours is to be as well.
So really, even if you were to say God’s love is perfect, it would mean perfectly, completely, entirely, wholly for everyone! Makes sense again, right?
So, if that is true, what becomes of fear? Read Romans 8 and watch how Paul goes on at length to tell us nothing of the most fearsome things, can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. So fear is gone, or better yet, cast out.
When someone is loving me unconditionally, I am never feeling afraid of him or her. However, when people judge us, put conditions on us, there is a natural tightening up which is akin to fear. Therefore, Jesus also commanded us a few verses after loving our enemies to “judge not” and “condemn not.”
Which brings me back to my beginning question. Well-meaning Christians tell us that we have to “say this,” “believe this,” or “do this” in order to be loved by God, forgiven by God, saved by God. “Have to” assumes a condition or conditions.
Final passages; look up 1 John 2:1,2 about who is forgiven because of Christ, and 1 Timothy 4:9,10 for who all is saved by God. These passages are amazingly unconditional, complete, whole, and entire.
Therefore, God’s love, forgiveness, and saving work is completely, entirely, wholly unconditional. So that is why our Church’s Vision Statement is that we are all called to be “Loving God, and Loving Everyone, Everywhere.” Loving even enemies offers the possibility that our enemies could become our friends.
It is a great way to live, because it is the way Jesus lived!
God bless you all.
Pastor Ron Hunt of Friendship Center leads worship every Sunday at 9 a.m. in the Ranch House’s Laredo/Cheyenne Room and on Zoom. He is always available for conversation about all things spiritual and biblical. His cell is 218-330-5306 and his email is [email protected].