Summary: Easter 6 (b) God’s love to us is unconditional. Living in that love we now love others.
“An unconditional love”
May the words of my mouth, and the meditations of our hearts, be acceptable in Thy sight,
O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer. Amen.
“An unconditional love”
It’s Mother’s Day today. It’s a time we show our thanks and appreciation for our mothers. Wives, grandmothers, aunts, girlfriends, too. All women. They do so much. And we are grateful. Mothers love their children. At least most mothers love their children most of the time. It’s instinctive. Mom holds that little one, and there is nothing that she won’t do for that baby. She loves that baby fully, completely, unconditionally. And she keeps loving as that baby grows to a toddler, a child, an adolescent, a young man or woman. And during those years, that little one leaves its mothers arms, and goes out into the world. There, however, love is not the same. Love is not full, complete, or unconditional.
In this life, in this world, we are constantly being accepted and rejected. We are valued, and the we are ignored. We feel that others don’t care about us. Maybe they do, and they don’t express it, or maybe we just don’t understand it. Or maybe it’s true, that they don’t care about us, value us, or cherish us. That they don’t love us. Regardless of what is actually happening we feel that they don’t care. That they don’t love us. And that hurts. Deeply so, doesn’t it? More than we often admit.
And so because we are immersed every day in these experiences with our fellow human beings, experiences less than perfect, and at times rather unpleasant, we start to think, believe, and feel that God must act and behave as people do. We think, “In the same way that people have loved and not loved me, so too God must love and not love me.”
Jesus tells us that that is not so. God does not love us as others love us. “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you.” Imagine for a moment that love within the Trinity. That love between God the Father and His Son. As the Father loves the Son. How is that? Eternally. God the Father has loved His Son from before time began. He loves Him now, and He will love in throughout eternity. The Father’s love for the Son is eternal. And the Father loves His Son completely. There is nothing lacking in the Father’s love, for God is love. His love is complete.
And the Father’s love is unconditional. Perhaps for us, this is the most important. For as the Father loves the Son, the Son, Christ has loved and does love us. Eternally. Completely. Unconditionally. We do not have to gain Christ’s favor. He loves us. “You did not choose Me, but I chose You.” “And while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Christ does not love us most of the time. He love us all the time.
His love for us does not turn on and turn off. He does not withhold His love from us. He loves us unconditionally. His love for us, does not depend on our living the Christian Life. He has redeemed us. We are his children. He loves us. Day in, day out. Good day. Bad day. When we are behaving, and when we are sinning. Yes, God loves us even when we are sinning. Now, He does not love it that we are sinning. But He still loves us. “Those whom He loves, He chastens.” God would not be tracking us down, and correcting us, pulling us back out of sin, if He did not love us.
But Vicar. It sounds like God’s love is conditional. Jesus says, “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love.” Isn’t that conditional? That Jesus loves us if and when we keep His commandments? No. It’s an “if’ sentence, a conditional sentence, but Christ’s love is not conditional. Let’s look at it closely. If you keep my commandments you will abide in my love. It does not say, if you keep my commandments I will love you. Christ loves us. Fully, completely, unconditionally, and nonstop. So what is conditional here? Our abiding in His love. His love is not conditional but our abiding in it is.
Remember the prodigal son. How the father loved him. Loved him enough to give him at inheritance now. Loved him unconditionally when he came home? The father’s love did not stop. But the prodigal was not living in that love. He was living out in the wiles of the world, and then in the sty of the pigs. He was abiding in mayhem and abiding in mud. But he was not abiding in the Father’s love. The father was still loving him, but he was not receiving all the good the father had for him and wanted to give him, because he was living outside of the loving plan of his father.