the weblog of Alan Knox

Unconditional love… with a few conditions

Posted by on May 7, 2012 in blog links, love | 22 comments

Unconditional love… with a few conditions

Swanny at “Allergic to BS” has written a very good post called “‘Us’conditional Love.”

The point of the post is the we often only love those who are like us in various ways. This “us”conditional love could be offered only toward those who agree with theological system or who are part of our “local church” organization.

While Swanny focuses on those who are part of “institutional churches,” I’ve seen “us”conditional love from those who are more “organic” as well.

Here’s a great quote from Swanny:

A consequence of this categorical “us” system is extreme prejudice. No, you do not get zapped with this internal disease quickly. It actually happens rather slowly over time like a deadly poison drip. It infects the inner-prejudice in all of us until we are absolutely paranoid of becoming like one of “them” outside the walls. We begin to have great contempt for those who fall into the sub-category of sinner. What is implied is “yeah, we are sinner’s too, but not like that sinner over there”, and soon people start to despise anyone who just falls.

Whether we are part of a “local church” organization or not, it is helpful for each of us to consider our reaction to those who are not like us, who do not agree with us, or who may even disparage us. Do we find they fall under the umbrella of love or are we making excuses for not loving them? Are we adding other conditions to “love”?

John’s warning is pretty clear:

If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. (1 John 4:20 ESV)

If we find that we are adding conditions to love – conditions that others much meet before we love them – then the problem is not with “them.” The problem is that we do not love God.


22 Comments

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  1. 5-7-2012

    Alan, Thanks for the kudos.

    Your are exactly right, I focus on the institutional church (my life experience), but this disease runs deep in any “church”

    Swanny

  2. 5-7-2012

    If we find that we are adding conditions to love – conditions that others much meet before we love them – then the problem is not with “them.” The problem is that we do not love God.

    There is still discernment of the Holy Ghost, and sometimes I am told to step over that person, and let them go through the fire that they are in. If we just enable others to not work, to hold be responsible through pulling them out of the fire, how will they learn? and how will they be set free, when they through our love have become dependant on you, I or anyone else besides Jesus, while they claim they believe
    Food for thought Howard

  3. 5-7-2012

    Swanny,

    Thanks for a great post. I was simply expanding the context a little. :)

    Howard,

    We never have to wonder if the Holy Spirit wants us to love or serve someone.

    -Alan

  4. 5-7-2012

    I don’t think unconditional love is possible from a human perspective until after we are glorified. I think, that there will always be a condition that can exist that would cause us not to love someone. There may be periods of unconditionality, but not a constant state.

    I’d love for someone to show me that unconditional love exists between humans.

  5. 5-8-2012

    Miguel,

    We will only love unconditionally (perfectly) when “the perfect comes” (to use Paul’s language from 1 Corinthians 13). To me, this means that I should continually compare my “love” to the unconditional love of our Father. As I see my love falling short, it reminds me of my need to submit to him and trust him to love through me. And, it reminds me of times and circumstances when I have not submitted to him.

    -Alan

  6. 5-8-2012

    Only God has real unconditional love – we are too limited in our fallen ways. However, I believe that we can ask for His perspective and ask Him to work His love through us toward one another and toward our neighbor.

    We are or have been guilty of “us” vs. “them” mentality. It shows up between denominations as well as Christians toward the unsaved. What is really sad is how we have justified these attitudes. We point out the doctrinal flaws of other denominations and we even more point out the sins of those who do not know Jesus.

    I recommend these two books…Repenting of Religion and Ten Things Jesus Never Said.

    Anyway, as for one another, we are going to have differences. It is sad that we cannot put down these insignificant differences in order to preach Christ and Him crucified. No…we have reduced ourselves to ‘those’ Baptists, ‘those’ Assemblies, ‘those’ Methodists, etc. Even among our own local ranks (more so in larger congregations), we do not treat someone who is struggling with an issue with the same compassion as we do those who we find to be ‘more acceptable’.

    Our neighbors – oh, how we have treated our neighbors. “God hates you!” , one sign reads. “You’re going to hell because your gay.”, I’ve heard. As a matter of fact, one guy told me I was going to hell because I told him that I would not only befriend a gay person, but defend him or her against unfair and unloving attack. How are we going to win the lost if all we do is, not just shine our light, but glare it in people’s eyes?

    Love without condition is exactly that. No matter what your issues are, no matter if you are a ‘saint’ or a ‘sinner’, I should allow God’s love to come through. There are other issues of trust, safety and other moral effects, but love still stands.

    We should not deny love because someone does not fit into our criteria.

  7. 5-8-2012

    We agree as I just wrote, right on Howard

  8. 5-8-2012

    I’d love for someone to show me that unconditional love exists between humans

    It does Alan, first and foremost it exists in the ones born again Spirit that God made alive the day one first believed. When one sees the recreated Spirit in them from God and learns to walk by this, their born again spirit one with God, dead to the flesh and alive to God they from their Spirit can never sin for their Spirit is alive to God in the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit is alive to them. Therefore there is no one they have not forgiven, and automatically from the Sirit forgive, and love for they know they are loved in the spirit. So they only know love in the Spirit. This is why God can only be worshipped inSpirit and truth. One day hoping through you trusting God you will know this as well. LOVE goes on forever, all else will ass away
    Howard

  9. 5-8-2012

    Alan we the believers are glorified today, through belief dead to the flesh and alive to the Spirit of God in our spirits agreeing as one in The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost
    Howard

  10. 5-8-2012

    Halleluah JOHN, yes , yes , and yes again, just love, refrain from glare just love all for when we do not we are walking in our dead flesh, our souls reflecting sin. But when we walk in the spirit our born again Spirit our Souls reflect life in Christ loving all. Which makes us peculiar and unpopular to the self righteous
    Thanks Howard

  11. 5-8-2012

    My thoughts are that we cannot show unconditional love by ourselves, we need each other to be unified together, and when we are One in Christ the world will actually get to see unconditional love who IS Christ.

    Swanny

  12. 5-8-2012

    Unconditional love is definitely challenging. Several things I have found in my walk with my Lord is that I do not need to go looking for those ones that should receive my unconditional love…God puts them in my path and when He does that He provides the Grace. Without that Grace from Him, I have to really test whether or not I am to get involved in a situation that requires “unconditional love” from me. I don’t unconditionally love all gays, illegals, gang members etc. but I have had opportunity to offer love to some of them. For me the dilemma is over when God provides Grace. There is a peace and a power that affords me the ability to do what is necessary in love for anyone that God leads me to. When that is not there I do not try to produce it with my human efforts. I do not feel condemned by my inability either. I know my limitations and I know when God moves me past them. It is exciting to see God work. To see what He does when His love flows into another life and transforms. I can not ever feel self-righteous when this happens because it is always a two-way street. I am always on the receiving end as well as the vessel for the giving end. It is a happy circumstance for me.

  13. 5-8-2012

    Another thought comes to me as I read some of the other comments…loving does not have to translate into enabling. God gives us wisdom when we ask and He also leads us to creative solutions to some problems with others that we need to love. Loving can also be showing mercy and if we look at God’s mercy toward us we can readily see that it is not always warm and fuzzy and definitely not enabling. Sometimes it is a hard thing. One example comes to my mind: My sister adopted 4 special needs children after giving birth to 5 boys!! One little girl was extremely hyper-active and my sister could not bring herself to restrain her. She could not see that as the loving thing to do, to strap her into car a seat when she was being a little dervish. But over time I was able to convince her that the loving thing was to help that little one get control over her body that she could not do from within herself. The car seat became part of the house furniture and the little girl could be at peace when strapped into it. That began a really creative process of finding avenues of restraint that were as positive as possible but also as effective as possible. We devised the shopping shirt…the sleeves were sewn together at the cuffs where we could place a small toy to keep little hands busy while restraining them from pulling things off the shelves, allowing her to have an enjoyable shopping experience with her mom instead of having to be left behind. That little one is a young wife now and no longer does cartwheels while walking, does not jump off of anything she can climb and does not stand on her chair when eating!! Learning how to respond lovingly to adult folks with compulsions is an interesting challenge, but the wisdom of God is available and an interesting exercise in availing oneself of so many things that God offers us in our fallen state, to operate in love.

  14. 5-8-2012

    John,

    You said, “We should not deny love because someone does not fit into our criteria.” Exactly. If we do, then we are not following God and not loving him at that moment.

    Howard,

    We are dead to the flesh, as long as we continue to submit to God and put off those fleshly desires. Otherwise, we can begin submitting to our fleshly desires and not hear the Spirit when he empowers us and tells us how to love someone that may seem unlovable.

    Rita,

    No, loving is not the same as enabling. Rebuking, teaching, and correcting can all be forms of love. Of course, as with other ways that we interact with other people, we can also rebuke, teach, and correct from wrong motives which is not love.

    Swanny,

    Do you think it’s possible in Christ to love someone that does not love you back?

    -Alan

  15. 5-8-2012

    Rita I love both posts

    Love from God through the believer always delivers exactly what is needed for each seperate person wiht the common denominator Christ Jesus
    Howard

  16. 5-8-2012

    Alan yes this is correct every day we wake up with the free choice of walking by the Spirit, the Spirit that God recreated in us the day we first believed. recreated to walk by the new creation he made in us by the Spirit. do this daily enough times and you might develop a habit of doing this and if a habit long enough it probably will become a characteristic to walk by the Spirit, unto a trait. While the old man which is crucified slowly diminishes off, as we keep renewing our minds seeing from God’s vantage point, rather than the worlds.
    Thanks Howard

  17. 5-9-2012

    Alan,

    Yes. We can do anything through Christ who strengthens us :)

    Which includes loving the unloving.

  18. 5-9-2012

    Swanny,

    I agree. And, if we find that we are not loving someone, then we are not allowing Jesus Christ to love through us.

    -Alan

  19. 5-13-2012

    Yes those wrong motives…that is the challenge! Learning to let God love through me has been a process…for sure. I think that can be one of the traps that can discourage…not many things from God come to me in their full maturity…there is an unfolding, and exercising in…tempering and testing. Once I could see and embrace that…it was key to the joy and excitement of life. I do believe that in other cultures where life is more extreme…things in God could move a little faster perhaps…more opportunity for exercise in the big things of God which strengthen and feed faith.

  20. 5-13-2012

    Rita, just keep growiing in our lord and savior Jesus Christ
    Howard

  21. 5-13-2012

    Rita,

    I can definitely identify with your struggle. Like Paul said, that process of growing and changing and maturing will continue for all of God’s children as long as we are on this earth.

    -Alan

  22. 5-14-2012

    Alan , I beg to differ here, heaven is now in the Spirit. what you said as long as we are here on earth we will struggle, yes as long as we do not believe scripture that we are dead to the law and dead to the flesh mind of trying to obey law any law, well that negates the scripture that says we are seated inn the heavenlies, put back here as ambassadors no longer miserable, representing the the joy, the peace and righteusness in the Holy Ghost. we are in this world not longer of it
    Howard