Bible Study Unconditional Love What is it?
I believe most of us know what love is. The emotion you have when you deeply care about someone else. There is usually someone in our lives we care about such as parents, brothers, sisters, friends, spouse, children, and etc. Really do we know what unconditional love is? To be able to love someone no matter what they did in their past, or did to you. Is it even possible? Let alone to even comprehend the unconditional love God has for each and everyone of us. Yes, we may have an idea. We may even say we love everyone. We may even say we love our enemies. Is that really true? Even when we say we love others including strangers and love our enemies, doesn’t that love usually have some type of strings attached? Then what is unconditional love with no strings attached?
Walking down a city sidewalk there is a stinky, smelly, old bum on the side with a bottle of beer in one hand and a tin can in the other begging people for change. Passing by him are some people who mutter to themselves that he is a no good, lazy bum who isn’t working, and has no place in society. Then there are those who are scared of him, and hurry by as fast as they can as if they even slow down that they will themselves be dragged down to his level. Others, who are a little more concerned, try to tell him where the nearest shelter is. Another group of people walk by and say come with us over there and we will buy you a burger to eat. They previously discussed amongst themselves that they are in no way to give them money, since those people will only use it to buy booze and drugs. You can only give them the items they need, or buy them food.
A big ministry comes along and says come with us and we can let you clean up, give you food, and you can enjoy our service. Then we will bring you back here, or where ever else you want to go. Then another person walks by, sees him, goes over and puts $20.00 in his cup. The bum says thanks. The person says don’t thank me, thank Jesus. As the person was about to walk away, the bum looks up. He asks why did you give me so much? Others give me just food, or what they think I need. That person turns around looks at him, and then at the beer bottle he is holding. Replies, Jesus didn’t look at me and question if I was worthy enough to be saved. Jesus didn’t say because you are doing this or sinning there, you can’t have my gift of salvation. Jesus didn’t say because you are more likely to do this sin, I can only give you this, but not that.
I don’t know what you will use the money on. I don’t know if you will use it to buy drugs, alcohol, or even use it for food. All I know is that you need the money, and I had a little bit to be able to help you. The bum nods his head, sets down the beer bottle, and gets up. Turning to the person, he says thanks. The bum turns and starts walking down the street. The person was about to start walking after him to find out what the bum would do, but then stopped himself. Does it really matter?
That is the question I will leave for you. Does it really matter what the other person will do with the gift you give to them? I believe it is more important that you touched another person and helped them when you could.
Does unconditional love stop there? The bum was just a stranger that the person knew nothing about. What if the person knew the bum was an ex-con that did some pretty bad things in his life? What if that person knew the bum was not only an ex-con, but a murderer as well? What if the person knew he murdered the person he loved the most? How many would be surprised that the person’s actions in the story above would not have changed with unconditional love, except to acknowledge who the bum was and forgive the bum of the atrocities he did.
How can another person forgive another person like that? How can one forgive when reason says there should be such hatred and anger there that the person should want to kill the bum on sight? How can God forgive us of everything we did? Everything everyone ever did from lying to murder? How could God give his only Son to us knowing Jesus would be murdered by us in the cruelest way just so Jesus can give us mercy, grace, and the gift of salvation? Yet God showed us time and time again His unconditional love for us. He used some of the worst people to use that if they were living today almost every church would turn away. How would you like it if you knew the assistant pastor or the pastor was a murderer in his past? Yet, we read and try to practice what Paul wrote in the New Testament. Paul wasn’t just a murderer, but could be considered more of a serial killer on the look out for more victims. His victims were Jesus’ followers, the people Jesus cared most about. God still forgave, accepted Paul, and used him through His unconditional love for us.
No matter where you are or what you done, God still has forgiveness, unconditional love, and the gift of salvation for you. It is never too late while you are still here living on this Earth. We may never be able to give unconditional love to others that God is able to give to us, but that doesn’t mean we can’t strive to do so every day. To be able to forgive others who have been mean and hurt us, show love and kindness to others, and to help others as we can. Will people hurt us? Yes. Will people we forgave continue to hurt us? Yes. That doesn’t mean to stop forgiving, loving, and helping. No. God can always use your forgiveness and love to change that person even if it is 20 years down the road, and you may never see the person again or may have passed on.
If God can bring even one person to him, and turn his/her life around, isn’t it worth it to try to practice unconditional love and everything it includes?