107. God's Unconditional Love pt. 2

          “God loves me fully right now, just as I am. He’ll never love me any more or less.”  Do you believe that’s true? We often struggle to believe this, for reasons I discussed in the last column, yet it’s the very foundation upon which a close, happy love relationship with God must be built. A foundation any less firm is unstable and sets us up for unnecessary spiritual worries and roadblocks.

What are the advantages of resting fully in God’s unconditional love?

1.    Resting fully in God’s unconditional love allows me to deeply trust Him

This transitional stage of our spiritual journey is a hard one. Much happens that we don’t understand. God often seems silent and invisible. We suffer. If I am assured that God unconditionally loves me, I will learn to deeply trust Him even in times of struggle and confusion. That level of trust leads to the next point:

2.    Resting fully in God’s unconditional love allows me to relax and rest in Him

The Christian life, while often difficult, is not meant to be lived in a state of tension and worry. God’s in control and His love for us guides that control. My life, challenging though it may be, is under careful supervision. Whatever happens, even when it’s hard, I’m okay. God’s plan for my will is being accomplished.

3.    Resting fully in God’s unconditional love puts my own performance in a different light

I’m still committed to giving God my full effort, but this has nothing to do with earning His love.  That’s a done deal, given by grace alone. I “run with perseverance” the race marked out for me for other reasons, such as love for God, gratitude, wanting to glorify His name, and a desire to please Him. If anything, resting in God’s unconditional love, frees me up to do these things better.

4.    Resting in God’s unconditional love keeps me humble

It’s easy for pride to creep into the believer’s life in any one of a hundred ways.  Remembering that we don’t deserve God’s love, in fact, that it’s an incredible concession of grace. humbles our hearts.  We’re less likely to look down on others. And we’re less likely to take an attitude of entitlement toward God; as if He owes us anything good.

5.    Resting in God’s unconditional love helps me handle my own failures more skillfully

When I do fail, either through sin or mistakes, the sense that I’m still fully loved by God allows me to bounce back more quickly. I didn’t earn God’s love, so I can’t lose it either. Even if He disciplines me for my sin, it’s still done out of a deep love for me.

6.    Resting in God’s unconditional love allows me to extend that love to others

One of the most wonderful gifts we can give another person is to love them unconditionally. This doesn’t mean that we can’t set boundaries or impose consequences at times (as God does for us), but it does mean that we will pray for and care for even our enemies. This is a glint of God reflecting on us that not only brings healing and hope to others, but also directs them toward Christ; the source of all love.  This, by the way, is not easy to live out, but the Spirit can teach us.

7.    Resting in God’s unconditional love drives me to frequent thanksgiving and worship

We’ve been given the most valuable gift in the universe. Embraced in God’s unconditional love we have hope with a capitial “H”, not just now, but for all eternity. As we come to believe this more and more, and as we realize more and more our own unworthiness, we’re quicker to say “Thank you, thank you, thank you!”. It’s totally amazing that a perfect, holy God loves us and makes us part of his family. Our eyes turn more away from ourselves and toward Him.

How can I rest more fully in God’s unconditional love?

1.    I rest more fully in God’s unconditional love when I understand that it exists

Forgive me if this seems too obvious, but I’m not sure that everyone, even believers, have comprehended that God loves them unconditionally.  It’s not a natural way to think.  Normally, if we think that God loves us at all, we see that love as based on our performance.  Most religions are slanted this way. But Christianity points out that if God’s love were based on our performance, none of us would receive it.  It’s a pure free gift of grace.  Period.

2.    I rest more fully in God’s unconditional love when I frequently reinforce it in my thoughts, words, and prayers

Remind yourself constantly that what you’re receiving is a grace gift.  Thank God for it. Rest on it. Use it to defend yourself against the Enemy. This truth must be constantly reinforced or it begins to fade and legalism, or other distortions start to set in.

3.    I rest more fully in God’s unconditional love when as I grow more aware of my sinfulness and inadequacy

The closer we draw to God, the more we become able to see that we’re even more sinful and imperfect than we thought we were.  His light reveals our darkness.  At the same time, we become more sensitive to how ugly and repulsive our sin actually is.  It’s not just a cute weakness.  Its an insult to God and a cancer to the soul.  Remember Peter, in Luke 5:8, calling out to Jesus: “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!”

4.    I rest more fully in God’s unconditional love when I become less shocked by my sin

This may seem to contradict my last point, but it doesn’t.  We still learn to hate sin, but we’re just less surprised that we sometimes fall into it. We’ve been humbled into realizing that, apart from God’s strength, we fall easily.  So, while we’re disappointed when we fail, we’re not so surprised and are grateful that God has kept us as strong as He has.

5.    I rest more fully in God’s unconditional love when I realize just how high God’s holiness bar has been set

This reinforces previous points.  God expects perfection; nothing less. If His love were based on our performance even the saintliest of us would fall far short.  Again, either He loves us by grace or not at all. What’s exciting, though, is not just that He loves us, but that one day His love will perfect us.  One day, with God’s total help, we will reach that holiness bar.  We’ll become like God’s Son Jesus. Now that’s something to look forward to! Amen?

6.    I rest more fully in God’s unconditional love when I learn to focus more on God and less on myself

His beauty is beyond what we can imagine.  He’s holy in every way.  And that love! That magnificent, warm, rich love which flows from Him like a mighty endless torrent!  We’ll bathe in it for all eternity.  Paul prays in Ephesians 3:18 that his readers “may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.” Just a glimpse of this love will grasp our attention and strengthen our hearts.