God loves us unconditionally. Sometimes, through the work of Christ in us, we are able to love others unconditionally. This means we love the other, or they love us, no matter what.
It’s typical for most parents to love their children this way, seems to be an automatic ability parents acquire when seeing the face of their newborn. In turn, this can help us better comprehend how much God loves us, since we are His sons and daughters.
Thinking about loving our children unconditionally, makes me realize that I love them whether or not they live up to any expectations I may have of them. No matter what they do or don’t do, my love for them is steady and strong. I would give my life for them even if they walked away from me and never returned. My love for them would stay strong even if they disappointed me and even if their actions resulted in my having to show them “tough love” and allowing them to deal with the difficult consequences of their actions.
God loves us like this. He sent His Son to die for us and take the consequences of our actions. God’s love is so great for us that when we fail to live up to His expectations and desires for us, He goes the extra mile to make a way for us to end up back in right relationship with Him. This is true unconditional love that extends to us whether we do what is expected of us or not. It doesn’t mean we won’t face difficult consequences because of the actions we have chosen, but it does mean that we are loved one way or the other, if we meet God’s expectations and desires of us or if we fail to live up to all that God wants for us. His love never ends.
Once in a while in this life, we experience this kind of love in our relationships outside our immediate families. I know that I have been blessed with friendships that “stick closer than a brother”, who walk with me through trials and sorrows, and who do not abandon when I fail to live up to their expectations of me. I would say I have experienced this unconditional love in some of my deepest friendships, and that I have felt the same in return for them, even with one or two who have walked away from the friendship and betrayed a trust that was built – there is still a love in my heart that would welcome them back, no matter what. I even think, truth be told, if it were down to a last minute choice as to whether my friend would die or if I could take their place, that I would lay down my life for these ones who are dearest to me.
This love is what God desires for His children to have for one another and for Him. He made us for this because it’s Who He is. He is this unconditional love, this One who sticks closer than a brother, this Father who welcomes home the prodigal, the One who gave up His Son’s very life so that we might be in right relationship with Him. In so doing, He has some expectations of us, that we will follow His commands to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and to love others as we love ourselves. He will love us whether we meet these expectations or not, but He will also allow the consequences into our lives when we fail to meet His desires for us.
So, if God loves us unconditionally, yet still has hopes, desires, and expectations of us while we are in relationship with Him, wouldn’t it follow that we have hopes, desires, and expectations of each other when we are in this deep fellowship with one another? Wouldn’t it also follow that our love for each other would remain steady whether or not we live up to each other’s expectations? Even if there were consequences that followed our failures, it wouldn’t mean that we were unloved by the other or that we had stopped loving the other…. Let’s face it – we are going to disappoint one another and let each other down in this life, and sometimes that might mean that a relationship changes somewhat, but it doesn’t have to mean that love ends. God can enable us to love each other no matter the circumstances, and above all, we can rest in knowing that He will always love us, unconditionally.