teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name... psalm 86:11

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

...unconditional love

So… don’t hate me, but… I may or may not have another Henri Nouwen quote. Ok, I do… it’s true… just wait for it…

Here’s the deal, there’s been a LOT of polarizing conversations and debates in the news these days… the biggies around here are to support Planned Parenthood or not to support and to legally recognize gay marriage or leave it as a no-go… neither are simple issues and neither have simple solutions.

I don’t bring these examples up so that I can argue a particular stance and invite further division amongst us. I bring them up because I think these issues are close to God’s heart. How do I know that God cares about such things? Because they involve people… and God has a crazy fierce, devoted, invested, passionate love for people. All people.

I’m so sad at the way God’s name has been dragged through the mud with these and other cultural, political, global issues. Christians are seen as haters rather than lovers, and their God is a joke. I think the church has failed at demonstrating the love and grace that is theirs in Jesus, and caused more wounds than healing by trying to push certain views. I’m pretty convinced that arguing morality doesn’t save souls.

But at the same time, we are called to take a stand. So how do you communicate the boundaries and parameters that God has set for His creation, for His children, without sounding harsh and legalistic? I think it boils down, really, to how we communicate God’s love…

“God’s love is unconditional… 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. God’s love for us existed before we were born and will exist after we have died… Does that mean that God does not care what we do or say? No, because God’s love wouldn’t be real if God didn’t care. To love without condition does not mean to love without concern… We often confuse unconditional love with unconditional approval. God loves us without conditions but does not approve of every human behavior.”
~henri nouwen

Our culture has instilled a fear of rules and restrictions in us, so now we associate them with control and manipulation. There’s a resistance to “staying in the lines.” Sometimes this can be healthy, but sometimes it can be detrimental. It takes a huge paradigm shift… really, the work of the Holy Spirit… to bring us to a place where we can see God’s instruction to us as a way of protecting us and showing us true freedom. We won’t see His “rules” as a good thing until we learn His concern and love behind them.

My prayer is that we, as the church, can learn to demonstrate His concern in a healthy, healing way that intrigues people to learn more of who this God of unconditional love is, rather than causing them to put walls up to keep this God out.

“Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ.” ...1 Peter 3:15-16


  1. I love Henri Nouwen. I don't think it's possible to quote him too much. And, the one you chose is perfect for your topic. I love the part you underlined. Unconditional does not mean unconcerned. Beautiful thoughts for today.

  2. Hi Denise - I absolutely love love love that quotation. It spells out God's love and how we should love so well. Great post. A real love for real people in real situations. Thanks for linking up Denise and I hope many pop over to read this. God bless