God's Unconditional? Love

Should we really believe God's love is unconditional? Many people, including believers, associate God's love with the love they experience in this world. That is a conditional love based on performance and reciprocity. I was like that growing up in church. I felt God's love based on my performance. If I fasted, read the Bible, did good works, etc. then I felt good, knew God loved me and expected blessings from Him. But when I didn't do these thing
s, I felt really bad. I just knew my prayers wouldn't be answered and, even more, I expected bad things to happen as punishment from God!

That is how the world would act. God is not like the world! He loves us unconditionally! This is not dependant upon anything we say or do. "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). Jesus paid for our sins. Salvation is free. We cannot do anything to pay for it. We cannot work for it. It's not from our own self-righteousness. "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God." (Ephesians 2:8)

 Most evangelicals would agree with the last part - we have been saved by grace. But here is where things change: they say now that you are born again, you should know better! God's love may have been unconditional when you were lost, but now it is conditioned by how you act! If you don't pray enough, don't read your Bible enough, don't go to church enough, don't do enough good works, etc, God doesn't love you anymore and won't answer your prayers. That is contrary to the Word! We cannot work enough to earn God's love! Our efforts to please God by our works, our self-righteousness is like filthy rags before Him (Isaiah 64:6).

 Does that mean that we should not try do do good works? Of course we should! But rather than trying to please God, these works come from our position in Christ, because of what we are, not because of what we are trying to be! "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:10).

When we try to impress God with our works and self-righteousness we are like the Pharisees. They were accusing Jesus of receiving the sinners and eating with them (Luke 5:1). As a result, Jesus told them a series of parables, one of which being the parable of the prodigal son. This parable spoke to me so much regarding the Father's love! In spite of the son's actions and disobedience, the father's love does not diminish! The young man may have felt unworthy to be his father's son because of what he did, but in the father's mind, he never stopped being his son! Our actions may change us and our perception of us and of God, but they don"t change God and his love and perception of us! Many church people are like the Pharisees and the older son, trying to be holy by their efforts, without knowing the love of God. This leads to a bad atitude towards others, even christians.

"Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love" (1 John 4:7-8). We are commanded to love one another. This is also our "trademark," loving one another.That's how people will know we are Jesus' disciples. It is impossible to love others if we don't have a revelation of God's love for us! We must be grounded in God's love if we want to be filled with all the fullness of God! 

"For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye,being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love ofChrist, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God" (Ephesians. 3:14-19).

 That's a great prayer for us to pray, that we would understand God's unconditional love so we can be true disciples of Christ!