TITLE: Unconditional love
By Lucas Fyeld
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“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:36-40
The two laws that Jesus refers to are found in Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18
I don’t know that I can grasp the concept of unconditional love at all.
Mathematically, I grasp it. To love a person – no matter what they do. Ever. To love them ALWAYS – no matter what they EVER do. That’s an easy concept to grasp logically. But I don’t grasp it emotionally, and I definitely have never loved anyone in that way.
I don’t know that most people grasp the idea of unconditional love. Once, I did feel love for a troubled young boy while he was spitting in my face. I didn’t even get mad at him for his defiance, but that was short-term and it was clearly Jesus flowing through me. It wasn’t me on my own, and I’ve got so much …“me” that I can’t even keep the peace of Jesus flowing through me for long in a situation like that. We get angry with each other and we lose sight of the love we should have for each other. We lose our love over the smallest things.
That I’d love you even if you tried to cut off … portions of my body … that’s preposterous. That I’d love you if you quit your job and sat on the couch and yelled and didn’t do anything else. That’s preposterous. For you to continue to love me until the day that one of us dies … if I just sit on the couch and demand you bring me food … and nothing else … for the rest of my life. For you to continue to love me if I were to become that person is ridiculous. It’s absurd and silly and dangerous and unfair and unreasonable … and very likely insane. I wouldn’t want you to love me if I were (which is preposterous in and of itself, but that’s not the point…) to become that person. I daresay it’s humanly impossible to continue to love that person. Yet, that is exactly how God loves us.
If I just sitting on the couch. Day and night. Not getting up for food, but demanding that it be delivered to the couch for them. Not going to the store to get batteries when they run out on the remote control, but demanding that those be delivered to the couch as well. Sleeping on the couch. Eating on the couch. Watching television on the couch. Nothing else. Getting up to use the facilities, but that only on rare occasions. My body would go to waste rapidly. This hypothetical person – me - would stink – my body and my attitude. I wouldn’t be likely to share the remote, if anyone would be likely to want to sit and watch a show with me. I wouldn’t be likely to move over, if someone asked to share the couch (which nobody likely would do, as the couch would begin to decay and stink as well). As my body increases in size, the couch sinks down towards the floor. Eventually, a doorway is going to need to be widened for me person to get through it so I can use the toilet. Of course, by this time, you’ve been buying me - increasingly difficult to find – larger and larger sweat suits, for many months already. You’ve been doing all the dishes for me. You’ve been doing all the laundry. You’ve probably been spraying the air around me and the couch with air freshener while I sleep.
And remember, this person (me) is not being nice and loving and caring. I’ve been rude and demanding. I’m not cheating on you. I’m not physically abusing you. The abuse is intense, but it’s all verbal and psychological. How long can you love a person like this version of me? How long could you love me if everything I just described existed, plus there was alcohol? Do you want me to get descriptive? Because I haven’t even mentioned (until just now) stains or spills or bowel control accidents, all of which you would have to clean up for my unproductive self. Or bedsores. Or trying to help me change my nasty crusty clothes (when I’m not actually helping you all that effectively). And I haven’t talked about my increased ability to consume food yet, either.
Of course, now that I’m getting wild with the possibilities, we have to admit…. It’s very difficult to grasp any human doing what I just said. Let alone … still being loved if they did turn into that person.
And it’s not just the vice of sloth where this type of scenario can be envisioned (although that may be my personal favorite vice to pick on). How long could you love a person who slept and worked and nothing else? What if I started working and wouldn’t stop to talk to you? Ever. I could come into the house at the appropriate time, grab a plate, or fix my own dinner – doesn’t matter – eat it – and go back to work without ever saying a word to you or giving you any personal attention. How long would you love me if I turned into that person? What if I never prayed with you? Or never read the Bible with you? Or never even snuggled with you in bed at night? What if I never went for walks or runs with you? What if I never went to church with you, or never went to visit any of your family with you?
“You,” whoever you are. How long could you continue to love your spouse under these conditions?
Or what if I did start physically abusing you? Would you still love me? But would you just do it from a distance, so that I would never see you and never be able to harm you in any way (because that’s probably what I would do)? Doesn’t the Bible say to love unconditionally… AND … to stay married to your spouse? I’m sorry. I don’t know if I would have the ability to do that.
I could stay married (if I were in a physically controlling and abusive relationship), but I don’t believe that I would choose to continue to show my love for this person. I wouldn’t put myself in a position where I would continue to get abused. I might love the abuser, but it wouldn’t be unconditional.
I’ve heard people say both, but it is my opinion that no human being can love unconditionally. Only God and Jesus Christ can truly love unconditionally.
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