Most of our life experiences, if we are honest with ourselves and others, teach us that we must do something to earn the love of others. We must do what our parents tell us to do. We must meet society’s expectations for our level of education, personal achievement, financial success, etc. We must be the ideal spouse. We must be the prettiest, drive the fastest cars, work from corner offices in high-rise buildings, and be someone no one can live without. If we can achieve the right things and avoid the fatal pitfalls, then we have a shot at truly experiencing love, right?
The problem with this approach to love is that it sets us up for defeat. Sooner or later, because of something we have or have not done, we lose the love of someone or something and our world unravels. We disappoint our parents, our spouse, or our children. We experience financial difficulty or fail to get the promotion. Who is left to show us love? Sometimes, it is no one. Worse, what if we are born into the wrong neighborhood? What if we never get access to quality health care and have to live with a disability or maligned body that might easily have been prevented, cured, or fixed? And what if our education is minimal at best?
If we apply society’s standards, who will love these people, not to mention what can they possibly do to receive the type of love that comes without condition? The good news is that unconditional love is available to everyone. If God lives within us, then we have the capacity to show unconditional love toward others, even to the least of these. We know the pain of letting other people down, and we are aware of the pressure of constantly trying to earn the affection of others by doing things they will admire, acknowledge, and affirm. What if we decided to live life differently?
The way to receive unconditional love is to give it away. Unconditional love doesn’t come with any expectations or strings attached. It is present whether or not we succeed or fail and isn’t attached to what we do but to who we are. This kind of love is unconditional! When we see it, experience it, or give it away, people take notice. And we have the capacity to show this love toward others because God has loved us in the same way. Unconditional love is uncommon. Uncommon doesn’t mean impossible; it just means uncommon. But God’s plan has been uncommon from the beginning, so this isn’t exactly new.
You don’t have to start an international relief organization or have billions of dollars to give away to change the world. The reality is you can do that right where you are. You don’t change cultures by influencing groups of people in masses. You change the world one person at a time. It could be as simple as a handshake and a smile or as complex as raising funds to accomplish something specific. Whatever it is, we must recognize that we have the capacity to show unconditional love to others. And in doing so, we are transformed into agents of change. Unconditional Love is not a challenge for the future but now, it is something we must initiate right now.
If you think carefully about those closest to you, there is likely at least one person in your life that understands and practices what it means to show unconditional love toward others. Jesus could have fought an earthly battle and waged war on Rome. There were plenty of people, even some of His disciples, who would have preferred He take that approach. But when Jesus talked about the kingdom of God, He was clear that God’s way of living is different from our way of living. Our clearest picture of this uncommon, unconditional love comes when Jesus is willing to die on our behalf, for our sins, that we might have life forever.
Unconditional love sets us free so that we might live according to God’s plan for our lives. Further, it sets in motion the steps necessary to bring about the kingdom of God on earth while we wait for the coming of a new world where unconditional love will exist in its original form, without human manipulation or corruption. Too often we excuse ourselves from opportunities to embody unconditional love because we are convinced we aren’t smart enough, mature enough, experienced enough, or rich enough to make a significant impact. That simply isn’t true. You have everything you need right now to show unconditional love toward someone else.