Thursday, July 16, 2015
There Are No 'Ifs' in God's Love
The core experience of Jesus, the moment that sustained him through his brief life on earth, happened at his baptism. Heaven was opened, the Spirit of God descended on him like a dove, and the voice of the Father said: “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” The knowledge that he was loved by the One who matters most was, for Jesus, the primal spiritual fact.
You, too, are God's deeply loved one. God loves you. This forms your core identity. You are God's beloved daughter, God's beloved son. You are God's child, and God loves his kids. As you embrace God's love and follow after him, this love turns from a theoretical thing to an experiential reality. You can know, viscerally, that you are greatly loved by God.
The nature of this enduring, unfailing love can be expressed like this: "God does not say, 'I love you if...' There are no 'ifs' in God's heart. God's love for us does not depend on what we do or say, on our looks or intelligence, on our success or popularity." (Henri Nouwen, The Only Necessary Thing: Living a Prayerful Life, 68)
God's love is not conditional.
A conditional statement is an "if... then" sentence. Most human "love" is conditional. Recently I received an anonymous note from a woman in my church which broke my heart. It was a prayer request, and read: "Please pray for me. My husband thinks I am too fat." It seems her husband would only love her if... "If you lose more weight then I will love you." How sad. How un-Christlike.
God's love is not like that. His love for you is not dependent on your performance or your appearance or your stuff. As this great, central biblical truth descends from your mind into your heart and becomes your core identity and reality you will find yourself sustained through all of life's incomplete relationships.
There are no 'ifs' in God's love.