CHRISTIAN LIFE & GROWTH
Do You Really Know His Unconditional Love?
By Jonathan Fashbaugh, Given Life Ministries
I'm sitting at my dining room table, my lungs burning inside my chest. This is not some super-spiritual, metaphorical burning. My lungs really feel like they have hot coals in them. For four days, the area of Northern Colorado where I live has been covered in a blanket of smog-like wildfire smoke. This is not good for anyone to breathe, but when you're an asthmatic like I am, it can be particularly problematic. Even with this and other trials, my Heavenly Father is teaching me about his unshakable, unconditional, head-over-heels love for me.
Who Really Needs Oxygen Anyway?
When I can't breathe because of asthma problems, some limbic, brain-body connection starts to get anxious. It's as though my brain says, "Hey, we're not getting enough oxygen up here, what's going on down there, Lungs?"
"We're giving it all that we got, Cap'n," the Lungs respond, exasperated, "but this smoke is wreaking havoc on our systems."
"Well, we have to do something. We need more oxygen!" the Brain worries, and I begin to raise my shoulders a little more with every breath, and my eyes probably start to microscopically widen with every attempt to fill my lungs.
Amidst all this, my children are, well, being children, and my wife is out of town. I'm holding down the fort pretty well. The kids always get a little more rambunctious when their routine is changed. For some reason when Daddy makes breakfast instead of Mommy, in my children's minds, this is cause for increased hyperactivity and sometimes irritability. This in itself can be trying, but when you add this limbic panic running in the background of my mind; this primal survival instinct to "do something," I am struggling. And still, the Father says, "Tell them about my love. My unconditional love."
Unconditional Love — The Only Kind Of Love The Father Knows
I have written other posts about the Father's love, but God keeps bringing me back to this idea. It must be kind of important ;-). Even people who have been Believers for decades can have an unconscious view of God's love being a conditional love. They feel the need to perform, but the Bible says it's way too late for that:
...for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God... Romans 3:23Romans 6:23 is a little more blunt about what coming short of the glory of God means. It says that the wages of sin is death, and so if we tie these two verses together in the Jonathan Fashbaugh translation, the Bible says, "We've all sinned, fallen short of the perfection of God, and we should be goners, EXCEPT..."
Except Jesus Came
John 3:16 says that God sent Jesus to the world so that we wouldn't get the death that we deserved. Most of us probably know that Jesus came to the world and died for our sins. If this is a concept that is sort of unfamiliar, check out this page.
John 3:16 also says that God sent Jesus because God loves us, but wait a second — exactly when did he love us? Maybe God loved us back in the Garden before Adam and Eve sinned. Maybe God loved us then, before we were sinful, but maybe now that we've sinned, things are different. Maybe now that we're rambunctious and irritable kids instead of little angels, God feels differently. Maybe he's waiting for each of us to get our acts together and stop this sinning before he's going to do one more thing for us! Thankfully, that's just not true.
For one will with difficulty die for a righteous one, yet perhaps one would even dare to die for a good one. But God commends His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. Romans 5:7-8Romans 5:7 is written specifically for you if you're a performer. It's essentially saying, "Look, even if you were perfect, it would be no guarantee that someone would die to save your life." In the natural order of things, this makes perfect sense. It's the survival of the fittest here, right? But you're not perfect. Romans 3:23 declares we're all sinners, but God shows his love to be unconditional by letting Christ die a terrible death on a cross for all of us when we were sinners.
Unconditional Love Then, Now, And Forever
When you hear people talking about the "good news," they're talking about the latter part of Romans 6:23.
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6:23You may already be a Christian, but I would encourage you to re-examine this verse and ask God to show you if you haven't really understood with your heart the meaning of the gift of eternal life through Jesus, and that God gave us this gift when we least deserved it. There's nothing we can do to earn it.
Love With Or Without Oxygen
So, while sitting here with my lungs on fire and my brain still scrambling for options, when my two-year-old comes up stairs and says, "I made a poopy. It's yucky, Dada," instead of being exasperated and rolling my eyes, I smile and say, "Let's go change a diaper then." I would do anything for my boys, and nothing they have done or ever will do will change that, and I'm not going to let a little lack of oxygen stop me either. They will feel loved!
Clouds have rolled in and it looks like rain. I choose to believe that God the Father sent these rains to put out the fires so that I'll soon be able to breathe freely again, but even if the winds of the storm whip the fires into greater, smoke-belching conflagrations, I will still smile in the peace of the goodness of God and his unconditional love. My Dada loves me no matter what.
Image Credit: Rachel; "We Were Just Kids In Love…"; Creative Commons
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Published on 5-30-12