Tag Archive: unconditional love



couple huggingAt first glance, looking at the concept of unconditional love, the task itself seems forever daunting, if not completely impossible! How can we love our spouse so completely and unconditionally? No wonder so many of us give up on the thought of happily ever after and “until death do us part”. Love is complicated enough when we are NOT expected to love so perfectly. But perhaps unconditional love is not as daunting as we first suppose.

Perhaps it is our expectations of what marriage is and should be that we take a look at first. If we enter a relationship with the expectation that the other person is supposed to take the role in our lives of ‘completing’ us, or bringing us fulfillment, and the ideal perfect idea of happily ever after involving no conflicts and agreeing on everything (let’s be honest, when we say that, we really mean that the other person agrees with you) and couple all of that with the expectation that the other person is not a ‘broken’ person dealing with their own issues, and growing from them, what we really have is a search for a fairy tale, and not reality. It is also a picture of self-centered or self-focused love. We are looking for someone else to love us unconditionally, with no understanding of what unconditional love is really about. What I have just described is not only a recipe for disaster, but it is not what a ‘real’ relationship ought to consist of.

First let’s take a look at what unconditional love really is. The definition goes something like this: The one who loves does not do necessarily what the one being loved wants, but what is deemed best by the one who loves. It also has to do with the concept of preferring one another… not merely looking out for your own interests and needs but also to those of the other. This means that we are looking out for each other, to find and cherish the best in each other, and encourage growth in each others weak areas, so that they might become stronger and well balanced in all areas of life, rather than a marriage of convenience seeking what someone else can complete in you. It requires being other focused. It requires greater emphasis on building together something that will not only last, but grow and flourish and bring the best of the both of you through friendship and team work.

This concept of love does not fit so well with your typical Hollywood romantic movie. A perfect example comes to mind is the upcoming movie, “About Time” with Rachel McAdams and Domhnall Gleeson, about  a guy who finds out from his dad that the men in his family have always been able to travel through time. The character Tim in the movie (played by Domhnall Gleeson) can’t change history, but he can change what happens and has happened in his own life. As the movie trailer indicates, Tim goes back to the same moments in time several times to edit what he presents of himself to the girl whom he is falling in love with, so as to present a more ‘polished’ or ideal presentation of himself. Click below to watch the trailer for this movie:

Sadly, this is not what real life or real love is about. It is most often the opposite. The person with whom you are the most intimate gets to observe you in ways that outsiders do not see. The day to day habits, character issues, un-edited versions of each other. I will admit, in the early stages of a relationship, yes it is true that people most often show the best parts of themselves at first, but eventually the flaws show. Eventually disillusionment enters the relationship, especially when you are seeking the ideal mate.

couple arguing in bed

While it is quite disappointing when people first see the flaws in their spouse, it is a perfect opportunity for something real to develop and the perfect place for unconditional love to be tested. This is the part of the relationship where your real values surface. When you first see the flaws – the temper, the blameshifting, the hidden secrets surfaced, the addictions or bad habits show up… what do you do? Do you see this as the perfect opportunity to run away and leave the relationship? Do you withdraw emotionally and disconnect? Do you fight and bicker and stick it out? Most of these responses come from something deep within us that longs for the ideal, coming out in language like “I need to find someone better than this.”

If you have followed my blogs for a while, you may recall a series I did a long while back on boundary development. To refresh, boundary development happens in the first few years of growth, going through the following stages of development: First we need to attach and connect, then we need to separate and individuate and begin to notice that mommy and me are not the same. This is also where boundary development begins. Knowing what you want, or don’t, determining your likes and dislikes, and differences between you and others first takes place. The next stage involves knowing that you are loved unconditionally; that both your good and not so good parts are loved. Finally, there is the stage of adulthood and authority. These are the stages we walk through while growing up in our first family. I mention this because, as many of us know, we all carry baggage with us into every relationship we enter. Everything that is unfinished business in our growth and development needs a safe place in which we can continue and complete that growth, that missing element. This is a perfect example of what the intention of marriage is for.

Marriage is meant to be a safe place to finish growing and be cheered on by our mate to continue to grow and develop throughout the remainder of our lives. Without continued development, we grow stale and become stagnant. Where there is no vision, the people perish. We are meant to continually live with purpose for the remainder of our lives. The same man who was quoted to say that without vision we perish, is the same man who tested the measures of life, as you can read in the book of Ecclesiastes in the Old Testament of the Bible. Solomon was claimed to be the wisest man of his age, and after an experiment of experiencing all sorts of pleasure, and riches, work, even wisdom itself, came to the conclusion that everything in life is meaningless without purpose. His conclusion was that God gave purpose to life, and that without purpose, there was really no point, because everything comes to an end. You can’t take your riches with you. Pleasure alone without purpose leads to depression, and loneliness. He realized that life was not meant to be live self-centeredly.

So too, marriage is not meant to be lived for the convenience of others making me happy, but rather to work as a team together building each other up, and being a help to each other spurring each other on toward more and more growth, and personal or professional or spiritual growth, as well as coming to deeper levels of maturity within the relationship. Sharing not only the joys and successes of life together, but also walking together through the painful seasons of life along with all of the trials, and through each others weaknesses, openly communicating and sharing with each other brings a deep and rich fullness to your lives together, and ultimately leads to a life where there is never a dull moment, or distance between you, but rather a rich sense of ‘wholeness’ as you draw closer together, always preferring one another.

This is what unconditional love is meant to be.

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Looking to improve your relationship?  Check out my online Relationship Coaching Program and get started today!

Katie Meilleur – Certified Relationship Life Coach

 

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Last Monday, I began to write about the concept of understanding God’s love, and mentioned I would continue the discussion today.

To recap just a little, I talked about what abiding in Christ Jesus looks like, that abiding in Him is abiding in perfect love, which casts out fear, and I talked about God’s commandments to love each other, and that this command does not come from a God who is demanding and punitive, because abiding in him removes all fear of punishment as we begin to grasp the message of the good news of the gospel, which comes down to faith in God. This same God who gives commandments to obey him, does so from a posture of humility not forcing himself on anyone, but rather he respects our free will that He himself gave us, fully understanding that love cannot truly exist without choice. God wants us to love Him, and receive His love. He is on a mission to pursue our hearts and let us know just how much he loves us by sending his son Jesus, to take the punishment of sin upon himself that we may go free. This is the good news. Very simple, yet so hard to embrace… A free gift? What’s the catch? By faith alone? Can’t be. Must be earned. He loves me unconditionally? No way. No one can love like that. Conclusion: He must have a hidden agenda and is not to be trusted, and so we continue to live our lives independent from the love of God, which he desperately longs for us to embrace by faith alone, and by the evidence he gave us by taking away the punishment for sin, by having his son take it on himself, thereby allowing God to be perfectly just and perfectly merciful at the same time. Perfectly just by demanding that justice be done for evil, and perfectly merciful by allowing us to go free from the consequences of sin by embracing the idea that Jesus took all of our sins, past, present and future on himself, and paid the price we couldn’t.

So coming back to the concept of abiding in God, aka, perfect love, which encompasses the idea of keeping his commandments, let’s take a look at these commandments and how to apply them in our lives.

“But let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger, for the anger of man does not accomplish the righteousness of God. Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility, receive the word implanted, (Jesus) which is able to save your souls. But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror, and once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he is, but the one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer, but an effectual doer, this man shall be blessed in what he does. If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless. This is pure and undefined religion in the sight of our God and Father: to visit orphan’s and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” James 1:19-27

“So speak and act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty, for judgment will be merciless to the one who has shown no mercy, for mercy triumphs over judgment.” James 2:12-13

“For whoever keeps the whole law (Old testament law) and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.” James 2:10.

“Love does no wrong to a neighbor, love therefore is the fulfillment of the law.” Romans 13:10.

“Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”, for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust is conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.” James 1:13-15

“What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in you? You lust and do not have, so you commit murder, you are envious and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask God, and when you ask, and do not receive it is because you ask with wrong motives so that you may spend it on your pleasures.” James 4:1-3

“Even so, consider yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore, do not let sin reign in your mortal bodies that you should obey it’s lusts, and do not go on presenting your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead and present the members of your body as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law, but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are a slave to the one whom you obey, either of sin, resulting in death, or of obedience, resulting in righteousness?” Romans 6:11-16

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law (old testament) could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending his own son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and as an offering for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the spirit. For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the flesh, but those who are according to the spirit, the things of the spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not subject itself to the law of God for it is not even able to do so. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. However, you are not in the flesh but in the spirit, if indeed the spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the spirit of Christ, he does not belong to him. And if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness.” Romans 8:1-10.

Again we come back to the concept of abiding in God, in Christ, and the spirit of God, and the law of liberty which sets us free from the old covenant law of sin and death. The law of liberty is the good news of faith in Christ. If the spirit of God lives in us, we have the power through the spirit of God to condemn and put to death our sinful behavior, not of our own strength, but enabled by the spirit of God living within us.

The law of the spirit of life in Christ (or the law of liberty through his sacrifice on behalf of our sin), has set us free from the law of sin and death that judges and condemns us. But there is no more condemnation if I am IN Christ, or abiding in Christ.

“So then, brothers, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to it, for if you live according to the flesh, you must die, but if by the spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body you will live. For all who are being led by the spirit of God, these are the sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received the spirit of adoption as sons, by which we cry, Abba, Father!” Romans 8:12-15

Here we come back to this concept of fear again. Our sin nature, the desires of our flesh that wage war within us, enticing us to sin, are what lead us back into the fear of judgment and condemnation. Our sinful acts are what the enemy of God (the devil, or satan) uses as ammunition to judge and accuse us before our Father God. (see Revelation 12:10,11) When we receive and accept his accusation against us, we submit ourselves again under the law of sin and death, rather than the law of liberty which deals with mercy triumphing over judgment and also deals with love casting out the fear of punishment. If we are In Christ, we live by the law of liberty, trusting and knowing and believing that Christ has already paid the price for our sinful nature. We must continue to put to death those inherent sinful desires and choose to live in love which is the fulfillment of the law, rather than living a selfish lifestyle, but also understanding there is grace when we do sin.

The enemy tempts us to sin, and when we yield to sin and are carried away by the lust in our sinful nature, he accuses us before God trying to cause us to subject ourselves again as slaves to sin, so that we forget what Christ has accomplished for us on he cross by laying his life down for us, in our place. The enemy appeals to our self-centeredness, or selfishness, which is why abiding in love keeps us under the law of liberty. Because this kind of love, God’s love, is unselfish. When we abide in Christ, in love, we are putting to death our sinful nature, resisting the devil and the desire to yield to sin, and close doors on the devil to legally accuse us before God, because we come to God, abiding in Christ, the law of liberty, and when we are accused, God sees Jesus abiding in us, and simply says “paid in full.”

If we abide in the word of God, we are able to overcome.

“For this is the love of God that we keep his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome. For whoever is born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that had overcome the world – our faith. And who is he that overcomes the world? but he who believes that Jesus is the son of God.” 1 John. 5:3-5

The commandments of God are summed up in loving God and loving each other. God’s love is the fulfillment of the law. God’s love fulfills the requirement of the law -perfection’. Perfect love drives out fear of punishment. Christ lived a perfect, sinless life, and his love was perfected by laying down his life for us, in our place, fulfilling the law and allowing us to go free from condemnation and accusations.

Could it be that as we abide in love for each other, (and as we do, God also abides in us), that we are presented with the opportunity through relationship, to encounter the specks and log’s within each other’s lives, giving us the ability to see our own faults as we are otherwise blinded to see through our pride, which deceives us, and through loving each other as God loves us (preferring each other above ourselves) we are made aware of our sin nature and are then able to crucify our sin nature because of love? When we truly begin to love each other, we find this law at work: “love does no harm to its neighbor” and our consciences are grieved when we see our own sin nature (selfishness) affecting the lives of the ones we love and when love begins to take precedence in our lives, we find ourselves empowered to change, thereby taking authority over our sin, and submitting it to God. Just some food for thought.

“In this is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his son to be the propitiation for our sins. If God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has beheld God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.” 1 John 4:10-12

Propitiation means “to appease because of Christ’s sacrifice. The benefits of Christ’s death to man. Not only the benefit of reconciliation with God, but the manner by which we were made friends of God. He is both the sacrifice and the high priest from the old testament, sacrificing himself.”

What is this love that we’ve been talking about, that drives out fear?

Love -agapeo from the greek, means “to love, indicates a direction of the will and finding it’s joy in anything. Agapeo is used of God’s love toward man and vice versa. Phileo (from the Greek) means to contend with, common interests, befriending. Agapeo stands higher above phileo because of its moral import; love that expresses compassion.

Agape, also from the Greek, is another word used for love, meaning “charity, meaning benevolent love. It’s benevolence however, is not shown by doing what the person loved desires, but what the one loving deems as necessary or needed by the one loved. God gave us not what we wanted, but what we needed, as perceived by God (the one loving). God’s love for man is doing what he thinks is best for man and not necessarily as man desires. It is God’s willful direction toward man. For man to love God, he must first appropriate God’s agape, for only God has such an unselfish love.”

“For God so loved the world that he sent his only son, that whoever believes in him, has eternal life.” John 3:16

Faith comes from hearing the word of God. Believe it. God loves you. No matter what. He has only been recklessly pursuing us since the beginning of time, since the fall of man into a sinful condition separating us from the ability to receive God’s love, because of the knowledge of sin and death and our mistaken beliefs about the character and goodness of God’s heart. He had to do something radical to show us how much he loves us and desired intimate fellowship with us. He sent his son in our place removing the curse of sin from us to prove that his heart toward us is good. To show us he wants relationship with us and will go to any length of humility to gain our love. He has set himself up for rejection again, by paying the ultimate sacrifice and removing the consequences of sim from us if we receive his free gift of salvation through Jesus’ death and resurrection. We can still reject this love if we so choose. But if by faith, we receive this gift, the love of God, we will be saved from the consequences of sin.

“Now for this very reason, applying all diligence, in your faith, supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self control, and in your self control, perseverance. And in your perseverance, godliness, and in godliness, kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. If these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord, Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 1:5-8


So yesterday I took a hiatus from writing for the day… I had an appointment with a specialist re: my back. I’ve been on a waiting list for about eighteen months now! I will likely blog about that on Wednesday with some updates, but as a result, it took much of my day yesterday, with the long wait times, so I decided I would take an unofficial vacation day, and enjoy the rest of the afternoon with my husband, who also took the day off work to come to my appointment with me.

So I’m catching up today. I am blogging today what I was supposed to write about yesterday…God’s unconditional love, and what that involves. I will be quoting myself from something I wrote over 2 years ago when I first began to have a revelation of why the ‘good news’ that is talked about in the new testament is such ‘good news!’ I have been in church my whole life and didn’t quite understand how to grasp the message of grace. I admit, I am still a work in progress at understanding this important principle. The revelations I am about to share became the ‘Aha!’ moment of discovering the content of the book I am writing, called “Found Wanting”.

Here is what I came to understand:

“no one has beheld God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.” 1 John 4:12

“And we have come to know and have believed the love which aged has for us. God IS love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” 1 John 4:16

“By this, love is perfected in us, that we may have confidence in the day of judgment, because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:17-19.

“For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome.” 1 John 5:3

So let’s begin to unpack the above verses a little. Let’s start by getting a fuller understanding from the original Greek that the new testament was written in, and translate more fully the words “abide”, “judgment”, and “punishment” from the passages I just quoted.

Meno- to remain, to dwell, abide, to persevere, to stand firm, to remain alive, to wait for, to remain under, be patient, patient towards things and circumstances, long suffering, or patience toward people.

Krisis- judgment, a separation, judgment, final sentence, the final judgment, to pass judgment, judgment of condemnation, the cause or ground of condemnation or punishment.

Kolasis- punishment, to punish, torment.

Now part of this good news of the gospel of grace that Jesus spoke of involves this:

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are IN Christ.” Romans 8:1

What does condemnation mean?

Katakrima, condemnation – to divide, to separate, judge, to be decided against anyone, a condemnatory judgment.

When we love one another, which we will define soon), God abides in us and He perfects love in us (for Him and each other). Two verses come to mind that I will briefly reference concerning the love for God and each other.”love the lord your God and love your neighbor as yourself.” and “Love if the fulfillment of the law.” When we abide in God’s love, loving each other, and Him, God not only abides in us, but this is HOW love is perfected in us. Why does it matter if this love abides in us? Because it gives us confidence in the day of judgment. God’s love casts out the fear of judgment and punishment. Why? Because Jesus Christ took our punishment on Himself, therefore we are no longer condemned. There is now NO condemnation (the result of judgment) for those who are abiding in Christ. If I am IN Christ Jesus, I am abiding IN him.

Jesus uses an analogy that says of himself that He is the vine and His father is the gardener. He goes on to say:

“Every branch in me that does not bear fruit, he takes away and every branch that bears fruit, he prunes it so that it may bear fruit…Abide in me and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine and you are the branches. He who abides in me and I in him, he bears much fruit. Apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up, and they gather them and throw them into the fire and they are burned.”

This last verse deals with the consequences of not abiding in the vine. The life that comes from abiding is not there and the branch dries up and dies.

Jesus goes on to say, “If you abide in me and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it shall be done for you. By this is my Father glorified that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my disciples. Just as the Father has loved you, I have also loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you that my joy be in you and that your joy may be made full. This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.” John 15:7-14

Those of you reading this that do not yet understand the love of God may read the above passages by suggesting that God is a demanding, punitive God, who punishes those who don’t abide in Him, and that he commands obedience, without question. Yet, we forget, this same God created each one of us with free will to make up our own minds. He does not dictate that we MUST follow Him, for he knows that love cannot exist in an environment of force, so instead, he places himself in a vulnerable position, the God who loves us and longs for our love in return, humbly gives us free choice to reject and neglect him and to NOT love him. He is communicating here, merely that abundant, full life comes only by abiding in his love, because only his love is perfect. How well we see this modeled in our lives. When we carry resentment, bitterness, and unforgiveness in our hearts, it acts as a poison that kills and destroys our ability to dwell in absolute love. When we have been hurt by other’s imperfect love, and we dwell in fear of being harmed again, we still wrestle with understanding the love that comes from abiding in God’s love, which heals, and enables us to rise above our own human nature that wants to stay wounded, angry and justified to judge and punish those we’ve been burned by, and instead, rise above that, and sit comfortably, resting in the knowledge that God’s love is perfect and does not fail, will not damage our self-esteem, and instead, heals us, enabling us to then love others as he does, because if we are loved perfectly, then love heals us to love more perfectly than we can on our own.

Abiding in perfect love (God) keeps punishment and the consequences of punishment away from us. Because God’s love casts out the fear of punishment. The hint of why perfect love casts out fear of punishment is in this verse: “greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” Jesus laid his life down for us, taking our punishment on himself.

“We know love by this, that He laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for our friends. For whoever has the world’s good and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in Him? Let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and in truth.” 1 John 3:16-18

“Since you have in obedience to the truth, purified your souls for a sincere love for each other, fervently, (deeply) love one another from the heart, for you have been born again, not of seed which perishes, but imperishable, that is, through the living and abiding Word of God.” 1 Peter 1:22,23.
(in this reference, the ‘word of God’ here, is not referring to the new testament as it was not yet written. Jesus himself often references himself as ‘The Word of God’. So again we see that concept of abiding in Jesus for a freedom we have not yet unpacked.)

So what does this love look like? How do we lay down our lives for others?

“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind, let each of you regard one another as more important than himself, do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of other’s. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus.” Phil. 2:1-13

Stay tuned next week Monday, for part 2 of this blog. I really thought I would have enough time to get it all in today… But there is so much to say of, and learn of the love of God, to really begin to appropriate it, yet alone understand, take in and receive. His love is so massive, it truly is inconceivable. Almost too hard to believe, too good to be true… And yet it is. He loves us and pursues us like none other, and His love for us never fails, never ends, never quits. His love is big enough to even let us walk away from him if we don’t want to receive his love. It breaks his heart, but he respects our free will. And he will not break that promise!

Unconditional Love


 

 

I mentioned on Monday that I would talk a little more today about unconditional love today.

Since I am going to unpack what God’s love for us looks like on Monday, excerpts out of my book ‘Found Wanting’, I thought today, I might just pass on some good stuff I’ve read from Joyce Meyer on the subject of unselfish, or unconditional love. Some quotes I have read from her book ‘The Love Revolution’ that have really inspired me over the past couple of years.

Helpful tips from Joyce Meyer on learning what unselfish love is, and how to apply it:

 

“One way to love others is to help them not feel worse about the things they already feel bad about.”

I admit, I often find this challenging especially when I have been seriously offended! I am still working on exhibiting more grace toward others, and am personally working on empathizing with where they are coming from so that I can become better at this kind of grace filled compassionate love.

I read this from the book ‘Caring Enough To Confront’ by David Ausberger about caring and confronting which I am working on utilizing in my own life:

Caring

I care about you and about our relationship

I want to hear your view

I want to fully respect your insights

I trust you to be able to handle my honest feelings

I promise to stay with the discussion until we’ve reached an understanding

I will not pressure, manipulate, or distort the differences

I give you my loving, honest respect.

Confronting

I feel deeply about the issues and interests at stake

I want to clearly express my view

I want authentic respect for my insights

I want you to trust me with your honest feelings, knowing that i can handle them fairly

I want you to keep working with me until we’ve reached a new understanding

I want your unpressured, clear, undistorted view of our differences

I want your caring-confronting response.

I am finding these tools as well as others beneficial personally to empathize when someone has wronged me, and I need to remind myself of Joyce Meyer’s advice to not make the person feel worse than they already do! Sometimes… Keeping your mouth shut is the only option if you are not yet able to find the grace to empathize and try to see things from the other person’s perspective, until your own emotions cool!

More tips on unconditional love from Joyce Meyer:

“humility serves and always does what lifts others up.”

“Jesus never made people feel badly because they were not on his level, but instead he stooped to their level.”

“Man’s love fails, but God’s does not. Man’s love comes to an end but God’s love does not. Sometimes I find that although I cannot love a person in my own human strength, I am able to love them with God’s love.”

“Human love depends on feelings. We love people because they have been good to us, or they loved us first. They make us feel good about ourselves, or make life easier, so we say we love them. Or we love them because we want them to love us. But that type of love is based on what they are doing, and if they stop doing it, we will probably stop loving them. God’s love is totally different. When human love ends, God’s love is still available to finish what needs to be done.”

“The true love of God doesn’t depend on feelings it is based on decision. Help anyone who needs help, unless helping them would ultimately hurt them. They don’t have to deserve it. As a matter of fact, sometimes I think the less they deserve it, the more impacting it is.”

“Mercy helps those who don’t deserve help, but unconditional love is not intended to allow people to be irresponsible while we pay the bill. Mercy gives many opportunities, and unconditional love never gives up. It… moves out of the shadows and helps when doing so will really make a difference.”

Perhaps my favorite definition of unconditional love is this:

Agape, from the Greek, translated as unconditional love, or benevolent love, refers to charity. It’s benevolence however, is not shown by doing necessarily what the person loved desires, but what the one who loves deems as necessary or needed by the one being loved.

For example, God gave us not what we wanted, as perceived by God (the one loving), but rather God’s love for man is based on God doing what he knows is best for man and not what man desires. It is God’s willful direction toward mankind. For us to love God, we must first appropriate God’s ‘agape’ love, for only God has such an unselfish love.

I will divulge more into this unconditional love and how it pertains to us on Monday next week! Stay tuned!

Unconditional love has been the single greatest feat for me to accomplish! I long to love this way to the best of my human ability! I am continually humbled by my circumstances when I realize how far I yet have to go to love more and more like God loves! I know I will never be perfect at it, but I greatly admire this kind of love and desire to emulate it to the best of my ability. I am grateful both for my successes and failures in this task, as I learn from each experience how to greater facilitate the ability to love in this way. Sigh. A long ways to go I’m sure. I am thankful for the grace God shows me, as I grapple with learning to extend this same grace to other’s as I try to model my life after the life of Christ. I am a work in progress!


What is the gospel? Why is the message of Jesus good news? Why is it that his death and resurrection are so important in the christian message of God’s love and grace? And how does it help us, if we are locked away, stuck in a sinful condition, unable to help ourselves be sinless and perfect? Why is it important that Jesus rose from the dead to make the Christian religion credible? I believe the Christian message of God being perfectly loving and merciful and perfectly just to be fundamentally flawed without Jesus’ claim that he is God, and without his resurrection from the dead, and his sacrifice on the cross for sinful mankind, it is impossible for God to be both perfectly just and perfectly merciful. If he were perfectly just, he would have to punish every sin, making no one eligible on the basis of ‘works of righteousness’ to earn his favor, for everyone sins and fails and is flawed. But to compromise that justice, he would no longer be perfectly just. The same is true of his perfect mercy. If he were perfectly merciful, he would have to dismiss every single human sin and flaw, and compromise his standard of justice for the oppressed. How does he then remedy this problem? We continually make assaults against the character of God when some moral code is broken… Someone takes an innocent life and we are fuming inside at the injustice if it all, daring even to blame the God of heaven as to why he allowed this injustice to occur, standing idly by, appearing uncaring to our cause. Do we not see from this example alone that we are made in the image of God, sharing with him the same value of both mercy and justice? How then does this dilemma get resolved? What is the perfect solution to the mercy/judgment problem? I believe the answer lies in the person of Jesus Christ. If he is who he says he is -the son of God, (the second person of the triune Godhead), and if his claim, and the claims of the many witnesses who testified to the fact that he was indeed resurrected from the grave are indeed completely true, then Christ MUST be the messiah, sent to redeem mankind from something far more than the Jewish believers of his time period could see. He was after something so much more important than rescuing his people from the Roman occupation of the nation of Israel. He had a much greater mandate, a free gift offer to all who would receive his message, and was living out the grand narrative of the mission of God -to redeem the hearts of his creation back to himself!

We will circle back to that mission in a few minutes. Let’s explore a bit further. What is it in us that desires perfection so much, that we strive for it in every area of our life? What is it in us that if we fail, we lose all hope and believe we are a complete failure? What is it that causes us to want to earn favor, recognition, love, appreciation, affirmation, success? Is it not the very nature of the divine, indicating we were created in his image, his image that is perfect, and unflawed, unconditional, and unending? Why do we have trouble accepting death? As if innately, we knew death was never meant to be the natural condition of mankind? Why do we believe we have good within us and fight so hard against ‘the bad’ or ‘imperfect parts’ of our being? Because somewhere inside of us, we know. We know we were meant for more. Romans 1:19 suggests ‘that which is known about God is evident within them, for God made it evident to them, for since the creation of the world his invisible attributes, his eternal power and divine nature, having been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse”. The evidence is in. We have inherited qualities that God himself possesses, we long for (often unaware) that which was lost to us because of sin, independence and separation from God. For instance, the longing for love that completes us, that is fulfilling, and that never ends, we long for freedom, and mercy and justice and to be perfect. And I could go on and on. But we cannot earn perfection, and the human love we seek after is fundamentally flawed, it ends, it fails us, eludes us. The purpose we seek in life, we try and fill with lesser loves, like success in a career, and we are often still left unfulfilled. As if we were made for something more substantial to sustain the largeness of our hearts. We grieve and cry out against injustice, often unaware that the name for injustice comes from the root issue of sin. Someone’s sin and evil mistreatment of another. What is the solution to this madness? To the cycle we spend our lives on trying to live for ourselves and make ourselves happy, and work toward being perfect… For what? For who? Why?

And love… The pursuit that leaves us so often in so much pain…. I want to share this quote with you, before I delve into the solution that the godhead came up with that the early believers that Jesus was messiah simply called ‘the good news.’ Today, we will find out why. But first, let me share this quote with you, from C.S. Lewis:

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will be certainly wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it careful with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket -safe, dark, motionless, airless -it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable… The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers of love is Hell.”
(The four loves)

And yet the solution to the inhumanity of man, is love.

“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 1 John 4:8

God is love.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whoever would believe in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

“Love does no wrong to a neighbor, love therefore is the fulfillment of the law.” Romans 13:10

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” John 10:11

“greater love has no one than this; to lay his own life down for his friends.” john 15:13

Stay tuned…. Part 2 of ‘Good news – what is the gospel’ will be coming later this afternoon.

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