The Conditions of Unconditional Love
At first, one could deduce the inference that our title is some form of an oxymoron. This deduction has significant plausibility; after all, how can the unconditional have conditions? Well, that’s why your reading this article, right? Kicking things off, we have been taught since Sunday School that God loves us unconditionally. How do we know this? The word unconditional is nowhere to be found in my KJV, ESV, NKJV… Bibles, in fact, it’s only used in the Message Bible, twice. Neither of the two references uses the term unconditional in context to the love of God, either. So, despite what you might be thinking at the present moment, this article aims to prove that God does love unconditionally, but there are conditions.
In the context of how I pose God loves each of us unconditionally, and I believe how everyone else believes is quite simple to understand. Unconditional is used in the context that there is nothing you or I have to do to be loved by God. Frankly, there is nothing we can do to deserve the love so the fact that He loves us in spite of us is a pretty sweet deal. Your standpoint of God, whether atheist, monotheist, tritheist, or polytheist doesn’t determine God’s love for you. If you love God, well I’m pleased to tell you that He loves you too, and if you hate God well he loves you. Picture the love of God like the light from the sun, if you believe in the sun and the light that is broadcasted from it does not impact the sun or light at bit. If you are a firm believer that our light does not come from the sun, but instead comes from your loved one’s smile, well I regretfully inform you that your opinion is arbitrary and does not effect the fact that light is from the sun. Like it or not, tomorrow morning the sun is going to cross the horizon of the sky, and there will be light, period. This is exactly how the love of God works, believing in it or not believing in it does not effect the fact that it is still there. Actually, just like light, it’s so fundamental that we often forget it’s even there. This is the unconditional aspect of God’s love. There are no prerequisite conditions of the love of God.
Now that I’ve built a house of cards I get to tear it all completely down, well maybe not completely, but to some extent. While God’s love for you is unconditional, there are conditions in the aspect of enjoying that love. Does that sound oxymoronic, or maybe a bit unfair? Well, its not, let me explain. When you got married, or when you do get married, or if you never get married when you attend a wedding, or watch a wedding, or hear of some person getting married there is a time to exchange vows. A quick example of wedding vows is something like this, “I, (Bride/Groom), take you (Groom/Bride), to be my (wife/husband), to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part.” In short, these are the Terms and Conditions of the marriage where you quite literally sign your life away (and you thought the Terms and Conditions of iTunes were bad). Yet, just over two million people get married in the U.S every year, why (Source)? People get married because they love the other person and the “restricting” conditions posed by marriage are not viewed as restricting because they are in love. The millions of single men/women across the world are irrelevant because love has brought these two together. Marriage isn’t restricting in the traditional sense because for two in love it opens new doors of adventure in a life spent with the person that means the most to you.
Looking at the conditions of God’s love also forces us to take a second look at love itself. What is your definition of true love? Despite the historical fairy-tale propaganda behind true loves originality; it was not created by pixie dust or the sunset leading to happily ever after. True love was discovered on a day in the most unlovely of love-stories. True love was first entangle in a crimson stream that propelled down the furrows of an unpolished cross. The reverberating clang of a swung hammer caressing the face of a protruding nail sent shock waves of love that have never ceased. The last blow of the last nail on the cross sealed the fate of a love that cannot be broken. It was bought when the blood of perfection kissed the dirt of humanity resulting in a love story more horrific than romantic. It was written in blood and sealed with iron nails to the wood cross for everyone to see. It was mocked, cursed, and despised. It was in the world, but the world knew it not. True love first went by the name, Jesus.
The conditional element of God’s unconditional love functions very much like the vows of marriage. People fall in love before they get married, and you do not have to be married to be in love but marriage allows you to enjoy that love further by spending a life together. That is exactly how God’s love for you works. He loves you to such an extent that he created a way for you to escape the prison of sin. John 3:16 says it like this, “ For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Jesus Christ came into the world for one single reason, to die the sinners death that you and I deserve. This sacrifice is what gave way to the conditions we are talking about.
Okay, so what are these “conditions” of God’s love? Well, you actually already know them you just haven't thought of it from this perspective. The conditions are simply the process of salvation laid out for us by Peter in Acts 2:38. “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” The conditions of God’s love is a three-step process: Repentance, Baptism in the name of Jesus, and the infilling of the Holy Ghost.
So, if God’s love is unconditional why are the conditions even relevant? Easy, if you can love someone outside of marriage why would you marry them? Answer, to enjoy life together. By going through the process of salvation now, you can enjoy the benefits of God’s love in your life both today, and forever. The process of salvation extends beyond just this finite life of birth to death but is also the first steps toward eternal life. It’s your right given to you by Jesus Christ at Calvary.
If you have already gone through the process of salvation, then you know just how crucial it is to be saved by the mercy of God. If you have not, I urge you to read the Bible and study God’s word for yourself in determining this major decision. Don’t take my word for it, take His.