The wagging tail, the dark, dewy, trusting eyes, the upturned nose. Nothing like man’s best friend to teach a lesson about unconditional love. You forget the treat, forget the whole meal maybe, ignore, insult, isolate – it doesn’t matter, the family dog will still be waiting, still watching your face intently, paying close attention to your every move. They exude adoration, affection, attention. They stand guard, ears pricked, and hear your vehicle turn the corner a mile away. The creator of the universe appears to have created these curious canines to give man what he seldom receives.
There are situations, circumstances, events. And there are responses to those situations, circumstances, events. A dying man on the road to Jericho, a woman caught in immorality, a tax man up a tree.
The crowd saw, experienced, felt, and responded. They said if and when; the crowd said you deserve this and that; the crowd said, by their actions if nothing else, you are not worthy of my time, my attention, my love. If you had performed better, had a better lineage, had true blue heritage, the right coat, the right hair, the accepted occupation, then… maybe then we’d share our precious love.
Apart from this crowd, this you and I in another time, stands a man who brought a different message. Not only a message of love but of loving unconditionally. This man was the Christ, the Messiah, the Savior of a wronged, wrecked world, a rotten smoldering planet.
He said that unconditional love expects nothing in return. It holds no accounts, keeps no credits, no chalk marks, no tallies. No ifs, ands, or buts.
This kind of love says: no matter what you do or say I will still love you. I will still speak with you. I will still treat you with kindness. I will not hold back my attention or affirmation if you do not meet my expectations. Your flaws do not scare me. I love you because of those flaws, not in spite-of.
Speaking of flaws. We all desire love that is … unconditional. We want people to be kind enough, mature enough, sympathetic enough, empathetic enough, understanding enough to look past our faults, our failures, our past, our disability, our foolishness, our put-ons and our facades. We all desire love that is… unconditional.
We are the people of big businesses, large acreages, affluence, and high standards. We are the people who look down on the broken, regarding them with a suspicion born from the assumption that godliness is cleanliness, class, and keeping it together. We don’t give to the beggar on the street because we just assume he will spend it on cigarettes and cannabis which we know is an abomination and a waste of money. We want classrooms full of students that learn well and easily and are obedient and kind and respect the order of operations. We don’t do underachievers very well.
Rich Mullins in The World as I Remember It, says this: “God has called us to be lovers and we frequently think that He meant us to be saviors. So we “love” as long as we see “results.” We give of ourselves as long as our investments pay off, but if the ones we love do not respond, we tend to despair and blame ourselves and even resent those we pretend to love. Because we love someone, we want them to be free of addictions, of sin, of self—and that is as it should be. But it might be that our love for them and our desire for their well-being will not make them well. And, if that is the case, their lack of response no more negates the reality of love than their quickness to respond would confirm it.” Nothing negates love.
Can we attain this? Probably not in perfection but like with any ideal, we strive for this kind of love. We strive to show it to our wives, our children, our families, our in-laws, our Christian brothers and sisters; the man on the job, the man on the street, and the man in the mirror.