The power of unconditional love

Published 12:00 pm Saturday, March 11, 2017

By LARRY STOVERPraise Park Ministries Church of the Nazarene

The Bible is replete with this basic theological understanding of who God really is, “God is Love.”   It doesn’t matter what your denominational background might be, this is the one concept that every follower of the Judeo-Christian belief system can agree upon.

God’s love is beyond being simply relational.  Many relationships come with strings attached.  People are willing to be “our friend” or “like us” if we are willing to give something back in return.

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The New Testament concept of God’s love is always “agape” love.    It is the highest form of Christian love and it’s always “unconditional.”  We never have to earn His love, grace, or forgiveness.  There are no conditions or strings attached to receive these gifts.

Love is the ultimate gift that we give or receive as a believer.  He loves us with joy when we do what we know we should do and loves us with sorrow when we break His heart in disobedience.  Because this is so intrinsic to His nature, we begin to feel and experience this love from the moment of conception until we take our last breath.

His ultimate act of love was sending His Son Jesus Christ, into the world as the Savior of all mankind.  Even in our periods of anger, resentment, and hostility to Him, He still loves us and wants everyone to be reconciled to Him through a relationship with Christ.

This agape love is not only the substance of our relationship with God, it is also foundational in our relationship with others.  The Bible makes it plain that as God loves us, we should love others.  If His love is unconditional toward us, then our love for each other ought to be unconditional as well.

With all the hate and prejudice in  our nation, Christians should be leading the way in demonstrating that loving each other unconditionally is not only the best choice but is that part of our Christian character that best reflects the principles taught by Jesus Christ Himself.

Secondly, our Heavenly Father’s grace comes to us in many forms.  We experienced this gift every moment of every day.  Prevenient grace is that unmerited favor of God that is used through the Holy Spirit to bring us to a point of salvation.  “It’s by grace that we area saved through faith.”

That grace also comes to us in the form of protection.  None of us will ever know how many times we have been protected by God from disasters that have been prevented by His shielding hand.  As the old song says, “My heavenly Father watches over me.”

The best description for God’s grace is that is truly is “amazing.”  It not only is the basis for our salvation, it is foundational to our lives every day.  When unconditional love is exhibited through grace it changes everything.  I see people as Jesus sees them.  That love expels any feeling of hate or prejudice.  When I look at the people around me, I understand the mission of God more than ever.  “He is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to Him in repentance.”  That universal call reaches beyond race, color, creed, political persuasion, or religious preference.

Christians, saturated with unconditional love, can change their families, churches, communities and the world.  As God’s people lead the way, Selma, and all of Dallas County, can begin to see the revival that can and will bring them to Christian Unity and our little corner of the world will be “Simply Beautiful.”