My beloved friend Stan over at Winging It wrote a beautiful post about loving his wife. It isn't an Ode to Love or a Sweet Puff... it is simply a declaration of one man saying that the love he has for his wife comes directly from God. His love for his wife is perfected by God. This is the truest of observations, I believe.
But... I'm going out on a limb here, I do not think it is possible for a human being to be able to unconditionally love another person.
Parents have great love for their children... but, that love is birthed at birth, flesh of my flesh and bone of my bone. That is a condition.
Husbands and wives love each other through various and wonderful interactions. The love continues through a commitment to each other and through the grace of God -- especially when tempers flare. But, it is a condition.
Brothers and sisters love each other through thick and thin, through good times and bad times, but they, again are flesh of each other and bone of each other. Families love each other inspite of the cantankerous differences. That is a condition.
Friends love each other because of commonalities. We are drawn to certain people because their lifestyle or their beliefs or their likes and dislikes match pretty closely with our own so we become friends... sometimes life long friends. That is conditional because we can grow apart.
Try loving someone completely unconditionally. It is wonderful and not so hard when they love you back. When they care about your feelings... when they put you first before thinking about themselves. But... what about when they do not like you anymore. What about when they kick you... betray you... spit on you... do things to harm you...
What about when they turn from God? Can you love them still?
We are not talking about some person who is half a world away, living in squalor because they can't help it. Nor are we talking about a person whom you do not know but is lost and God has told you to pray and love the lost. Those are faceless people.
Would you take a bullet for someone you didn't know? Would you take a bullet for someone you did know but could not abide? Loving those people is not easy... not even when God loves them through you.
Is there a point you reach when you have to say, "Loving you hurts too much for me to continue to love you unconditionally."
The pivotal point here is that God does not expect us to be God. He expects us to act like Him to the best of our abilities, and for us to measure ourselves using Jesus as our plumbline, but there comes a point when it hurts too much to continue down a certain path. We must break away in order to maintain sanity.
In case you think, "She hasn't a clue what she's talking about." Let me tell you that I was given a job by God. He told me I must love someone unconditionally, no matter what he did or said. For months I followed God's lead. For months I prayed and loved unconditionally... through the rejection, through the callous treatment, through the friendship, through it all. Rejoicing through the good things and weeping with him through the bad things. It was all about him. I set my needs, my wants, my desires all to the side and poured enough energy into him to light up New York City.
And I found out my limit. And I found out a most enlightening Truth about God.
He has limits, too.
We are very needy in Christ. God knows that and plans for that. He nurtures us and pours out blessings over us and through us as we grow in Him we become so close to Him we begin to look like Him. But... when we take and take and never give, God quits pouring out. He has expectations and He has conditions. Selfishness has no place in God's plan for our lives. He won't tolerate a selfish attitude.
He loves unconditionally, but His blessings have conditions. He loves eternally, but eternity in heaven may begin much sooner than expected when a Christian does not do the work of God according to His purposes. There are many Scriptures for this truth and if you require them, I'll look them up and send them to you.
Jesus loved us unconditionally. He loved so much that He gave His life willingly so that we might live eternally with Him. He knew the future. He knew that not all would accept the gift. He gave it anyway. He gave it for all but only a few accept. Salvation is conditional. We must first believe that God exists. We must then believe what God said; believe in Jesus and believe that He died for us and rose from the dead. If you don't believe that, then you don't get to go to heaven. That is conditional.
God loved Adam and Eve, but they chose to disobey and God had to cast them out of the Garden. That was conditional.
The father watched continuously for his prodigal son and ran to meet him when he finally saw him coming up the road. That was conditional upon the son returning.
The father never quit loving his prodigal son. The blessings were conditional, not the father's love. The son would never have received those blessings of a coat, a ring and a feast if he had not returned to the father.
I have been praying for several weeks now that God would release me from this. It really hurts too much. I have also been following that prayer with, 'Not my will but Yours Father. Put Your desires in my heart and Your prayer on my lips.' Yesterday God released me. I feel like a two ton tilly has been lifted off my back. I also feel incredibly sad.