He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor punished us according to our iniquities. Psalm 103:10 NKJV
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 NKJV
The question I have today is simple. Is it possible for us as well meaning Christians, to love unconditionally? The verses show that God loves us even when we don’t deserve it, and even continues to love us while we sin! If you have been in church circles for a while, you will know this already, but can I ask you to pause over it for a few seconds? God didn’t think any less of us while we had no thought for Him. His love is, and always is without precondition. Amazing love, as the old hymn puts it, and He even died for us whether we ever accept His love or not. No ifs, no buts, no conditions, just complete and free love. That’s unconditional indeed.
I would suggest that our own ‘unconditional love’ might be different than God’s. Behind our confession of love, there is usually a reason for our action. It possibly is not love for love’s sake alone, but has something to do with us. In fact are we capable of loving unconditionally while here on this sin sick, God starved planet?
When we say we are loving in this most supreme way, are some of these reasons going on within our proud human hearts? I hope someone will notice? Makes me feel or look better? The person I am loving will ‘owe me’ something? Shows what a good Christian I am? I need to be shown love too? I will be loved back, but on my terms?
I believe we will try our level best to love someone in a difficult situation, but can we really love unconditionally while in this human sin tainted shell? I hope you have some ideas, because I would like to know how. I want to be Christlike, but fall short of the mark. What about you? Have you had success in giving this kind of no preconditions love? Can I love like this while accepting in advance that there will be NO reward and NO love returned? Maybe it would be best to go the well worn worldly route of loving and not knowing why we bother, or how we manage it, or because we might get something out of it for ourselves? So, unconditional love: is it possible? As usual, just asking.
Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. John 15:13,14 NKJV
This is a follow on to the previous Blog on ‘comfort’, so as you read you may see a continuing thread of thought. Christ’s love is supreme in that His friendship toward us, led directly to His death and resurrection. It seems that our friendship was part of His divine plan, but based on the verse we shouldn’t be surprised by that fact. Bearing in mind the standard set for us, how do we choose and rate our earthly friendships? Make a mental note of your friends and ask yourself, ‘would I die for any of them’? Probably not, although you would lay down your life for your life’s partner or children I am sure, without a second thought.
I found myself asking, how do I know who my real friends are? You can answer for yourself, but for me, one of the main characteristics is that true friends can pray for each other, but more importantly for me at least, is that we can tell each other in love, as we support one other. But what is the difference between the love of our friends and our family? In a word it is blood. In our case, family blood that runs in the veins of our children. So it is with God. We are not just ‘friends’, but friends+, in fact we are family! Therefore Christ died for us as His family, and not just as His friends.
At a human level, our earthly friends may come and go. Some real friends will leave our groups, churches, but not our lives. Not if they are true friends. This week has seen me aware of a friendship with a Godly couple which was special and supportive, but in God’s direction are now being put into another and better place, closer to family and to new (as yet unknown) friends. I wish them well, as they follow God’s Will and direction for their lives. It cannot be wrong.
We talk about God opening a door as if it is only there for us to go through into an unknown, away from the place we are comfortable. But a door has two sides, and can also be used by God to allow an (as yet) unknown friend to walk through and become visible to us, emerging from that same unknown darkness on the other side of the door. In the same way as God is in the movement of my present friends, He is also in control of those new friends He will provide. I wonder if we will recognise His moving for what it is?
So, the link between ‘comfort’ and ‘friendship’? Simply this: As we give to each one, we will benefit, and our God will not disappoint. Not those special departing friends, nor the emerging new friends either. Who knows, maybe there is also room for us to achieve that special place of ‘friendship+’, with those new God given friends, in Jesus Name!
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 2 Cor 1:3-5 NKJV
I was reminded of the words of this verse recently by a very good friend. There are times we all want some kind of comfort, and in Christ we have that comfort and as much as we need. In truth, human comfort will help, but it doesn’t usually fill our needs, however the comfort which comes from a firm faith in Jesus Christ, always does. We can entertain the tendency to have a pity party, which can go on for a long time, but these kinds of parties are usually lonely things, and our normal friends don’t want to join our party.
So what makes the difference in the life of a Christian? Undoubtedly it is in the selfless act of being there when needed, yes to comfort, but even more importantly is the true friend’s reminder that because we have experienced God’s comfort, so now we can tell others that we care about that the best way to receive comfort is to give that comfort away to others who also need the reminder of God’s unfailing love. It’s a circle of love. God’s love.
It’s a lesson that we don’t want to hear when we are having that pity party, is it, but essential advice nonetheless? Comfort is a bit like love. We enjoy more of it only when we give it away to others in Jesus name. What kind of person would come up with that kind of advice? Probably someone who has been where you are themselves, knows how you feel, but is a friend. A good friend, maybe a best friend, who knows they can speak the truth in love, and these kinds of friends are in short supply and special.
I will finish with part of a famous prayer by St Francis of Assisi: O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console; to be understood, as to understand; to be loved, as to love. For it is in giving that we receive. It is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life. Amen.
Do not put your trust in princes, Nor in a son of man, in whom there is no help. His spirit departs, he returns to his earth; In that very day his plans perish. Psalm 146:3-4 NKJV
Prince Harry, third in line to the British throne, is in the news for all the wrong reasons. He has become an embarrassment, a laughing stock in the world, and the subject of many debates on how and why he got himself into such a compromising situation in Las Vegas, the sex and prostitution capital of the world. (Not my words, but from a royal commentator.)
The discussions have included serious topics like, press freedom, freedom of speech, the Judge Leverson Enquiry into press freedom, Harry’s protection team, Harry’s choice of ‘friends’ for the night, front page pictures being available to the youngest of curious minds, and what is ‘in the public interest’, to name but a few. I think it is worth remembering he was there by choice, and that the UK taxpayer paid the bills.
Nowhere in the news, and no one in particular has raised the issue of morality. No one. I am not even talking about that old fashioned word ‘sin’, I am talking about good old fashioned decency and morality. The morality of a not so young man, who is third in line to be the future King of Great Britain, and the bad example he shows to a generation of people. Can we ever look the same on the ‘good works’ he does for charity again? And if that isn’t bad enough, Prince Harry has at a stroke become the best and biggest argument for dismantling the British Monarchy, and replacing it with a democratically elected Republic. At least, someone who behaves like this can be voted out. Make no mistake, in a democratic Republic his public image counts for something, and he would have been replaced by now. As it is in the UK, Harry can lie low for a while and hope the problem will blow over. Is this the role model we need in our nation?
I wonder what the Psalmist had in mind when he penned the words above? Maybe he knew of abuses by the Princes of his day, and we know the truth of God’s Word is timeless. Trust in Princes has been shown again to be foolish, so the rest of the verse must be true too. His life and days are numbered and his actions will die with him, but since we believe in the King of all Kings, our future in Him is sure, timeless, and eternal. In today’s news story, I don’t see that reported, but it is still true. I for one am glad of that simple truth.