Recently, I have been dwelling on the concept of unconditional love. This is a weighty topic and I am not claiming to have it all figured out, but this is what I’ve come to think it means:
Love is a commitment and continuous choice.
I am 21 years old and only have an idea of how to unconditionally love others. I can imagine some of you reading this, who have been married for many years, chuckling a little that a college student would be writing about unconditional love. To this I say you are absolutely right; I have so much I want to learn from your examples of unconditional love that you show your spouse and your kids every single day. As someone who wants to love his family as Christ loves the Church (Ephesians 5:25–28), I am constantly encouraged by seeing married couples in our church who so clearly love each other unconditionally.
That being said, I think it is apparent to all of us that we don’t always demonstrate unconditional love. For example, we put our selfish desires above our kids, we choose our phones over our spouses, and we hurt the people we love the most.
Why do we struggle with it? As with most things, Christianity urges us to define unconditional love by the cross. Yet, I struggle to grasp the unconditional love that Christ showed me in dying on the cross. It is hard to want to accept this love when I feel so undeserving of it. But in order to love, we need to be loved. If we don’t allow ourselves to first be filled with love from the Gospel, we won’t have any love to spread to others. I think so often we as human beings neglect the capacity of unconditional love because we do not remind ourselves daily of the Gospel that fills us with love.
The Gospel gives us a constant, unending love that envelops our entire being. God’s love enables our love (1 John 4:19). Christ’s death on the cross is a manifestation of God’s love. Therefore, we have the capacity to love people unconditionally because His love courses through our veins.
1 John 4:10 says this: “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” This verse reminds me that Christ’s love is unconditional because nothing I can ever do or have ever done is worthy of the unconditional love that I am shown from our savior. When I allow myself to receive this love, it propels me to try and love people unconditionally.
Go love your spouse, child, neighbor, or even the person you struggle to love the most. Christ loves us unconditionally when we are at our worst, so let us love others when they are at their lowest. Let’s be a people that can say with Paul that “Christ’s love compels us” (2 Corinthians 5:14).
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Alec McLean is a pastoral intern at Grace. He is currently attending Grace College in Winona Lake, Indiana, studying to get his Bachelor of Arts in Entrepreneurial Management with a minor in Behavioral Science. He is a lifelong attendee of Grace and excited to serve in the Pastoral Internship Program as he investigates God’s will for his future.