Summary: The kind of love that God loves us with is what the Bible refers to as unconditional love.
LOVE NEVER FAILS
Text: First Corinthians 13:1-13
If there is any one word in the English language that we have distorted, it is the word love. We often say that we love fried chicken, chocolate cake, scrambled eggs and sausage and so on. We even say that we love this movie, this TV show, that car, this brand of shoes or clothing and we could go on and on. You get the idea. We have often used the word love to describe our feelings about our favorite things.
The real meaning of love is about our strong feelings about others with whom we have a relationship. We use the word love to describe how we feel about God. Throughout the Bible, we see how God exemplifies His love for us. God’s love for us is beyond our comprehension.
Although we might fail from time to time, God never stops loving us. The kind of love that God loves us with is what the Bible refers to as unconditional love. The Greek word for this kind of love is agape. The Greek language has three other words for love.
When I think about the ideal of unconditional love, I tend to think about how these two words are a contradiction. We call this kind of contradiction a oxymoron. The name of a crucial battle in our country’s history is a oxymoron---Civil War. We all know that there is nothing at all civil about war. No one can argue and say that God does not love us unconditionally. There are times when our attempts to be loving in an unconditional way are limited. That is why we are always in need of God¡¦s help to be loving as God is loving. When we forget about God¡¦s unconditional love for us, our love begins to become love that has strings attached. Without godly love, we are nothing .
A young man wrote his sweetheart a love letter: Dear Jennifer, I love you so much I’d climb the highest mountain just to see your smile. I’d swim the deepest river, infested with piranhas, just for one of your kisses. I’d cross the widest sea for one of your hugs. I’d cross the burning desert just to look upon your face. With neverending love, Frank, P.S.: I’ll be over to see you next Wednesday, if it doesn’t rain.
Are you a fair-weather lover? Our whole purpose is to be agents of love; not James Bond type agents of love, but agents whose lives and behavior are ruled by Christlike love.¡(Heather Murray Elkins. The Abingdon Preaching Annual. 1995 Edition. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1994, pp.65-66).
GOD’S LOVE FOR US IS UNCONDITIONAL.
God’s unconditional love is not based on our performance. God loves the prodigal sons just as He loves the elder brothers. I once read about a young lady whose parents changed the way that they related to their daughter when she became pregnant out of wedlock. Unfortunately, the change was not for the better. Their love became conditional. That teenage girl needed her parents when she got pregnant more than ever. Yet, they were ashamed of her. In some ways they disowned her. Even some of the members of her church family responded to her differently. God’s love remained unchanged. God’s was heart-broken with her. Unlike her parents God’s unconditional love did not have limits.
God loves us in spite of our mistakes. When we make mistakes, God does not cease to love us. The parable of the prodigal son reveals how great God’s love is for us.
I once talked with a minister at Annual Conference who shared with me the following illustration. One day a child was playing near a mud puddle. In a moment of carelessness he fail in and got muddy. He was heart broken. He knew that his mother would be upset with him because she had told him not to play near the mud. When his mother found out about what her son had done she did not throw him away. Even though we make mistakes, God does not stop loving us and God certainly does not throw us away.
God loves people even if they do not respond to His love. A man went out to a river for a time of quiet meditation one morning. During his meditation he noticed that the river was rising as well as a scorpion that was trapped in the roots of a tree. He tried to release the scorpion and with every attempt it drew back its tail ready to strike. An observer watching this man said, "Don’t you that its is the scorpion’s nature to sting?" The holy man responded, "Indeed it may be his nature to sting, but it is my nature to save. Must I change my nature because the scorpion does not change his?" (Herb Miller. Actions Speak Louder Than Verbs. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1989, p. 72).