Summary: Most Christians have a completely false understanding of God’s love which is based on our own life experiences.
The Truth About Love
Dr. George Wald is a Harvard biologist who won a Nobel Prize. I would like to share with you what he wrote. “What one really needs is not the Nobel prize, but love. How do you think one gets to be a Nobel prize winner? Wanting love, that’s how. Wanting it so bad one works all the time. He works and works and ends up as a Nobel prize winner. It’s a consolation prize. What matters is love.”
Dr. George Wald has wanted love. He has wanted love all his life. Did he get love? After winning the Nobel prize, did he finally get love. I’m sure he got a lot of praise. And I’m sure his parents were very proud. And I’m sure they gave him a lot of love. But the love that this Harvard biologist received, was it true love? No. It was not true love. Is true love something you receive for doing something praiseworthy. If you receive love after having done something, that is conditional love. Is true love conditional? No, true love is not conditional. True love is unconditional.
Human love is so conditional. And this is the way it is in many homes. In our hearts our love may be unconditional. But the message that is given is usually that of conditional love. In a book called Living God’s Love, author Douglas Cooper says, “the average person is programmed from birth to love only conditionally. Consequently, we grow up feeling that we have to earn any love we get. Earn it by our good behavior, by agreeing to let someone else have their way, by giving someone what they want, or simply by just being ‘nice.’”
Last year, when I was at the P.U.C. campmeeting, I was reminded about how conditional our love is. My wife and I were helping out with the Junior High program. One morning, all the Junior High students were divided into six different groups. Each group was supposed to discuss the kinds of problems we have at home. And then discuss possible solutions so that we can have better relationships with our parents. After the discussion, each group was to come up with a short skit which portrayed some problem that happens in the home. How many groups did I say there were? There were six groups. Four out of the six groups did skits that revolved around a similar problem. I was shocked. I didn’t know how severe this problem was in some homes. What do you think their skits were about? Can you guess? I’ll tell you. A child comes home with a report card. He shows it to his parents. The parents look at the report card. The child has got all A’s and one A minus. The parents are upset. They get mad at the child because of the A minus. And they yell at the child. Four out of the six groups did skits that dealt with this problem.
Is the child who gets yelled at for bringing home an A minus receiving unconditional love? As Koreans, all of us who have gone to grade school can relate to this. In one book I read, it said, that in many homes, before a child is even born, the parents have determined the child’s future. My wife told me it’s very common in Korea. My wife knows of a family that has two daughters. And the parents were very determined to have one daughter marry a doctor. And they were determined to have one marry a pastor. Everything did happen as the parents wished. The girl that was pressured into marrying the pastor is Yeon Hee’s friend. And she is one very unhappy wife. What kind of love is this young lady receiving from her parents.
Author Douglas Cooper is right. “The average person is programmed from birth to love only conditionally.” An impression is built deeply within us that we must “please” our parents or our friends, in order to receive love. And then we naturally start to expect others to “please” us if they want our love. Therefore, with this deep-seated attitude it becomes humanly impossible to love anyone who disagrees with us. It’s impossible to love anyone who believes differently. It’s impossible to love anyone who acts differently from the way we think they should.
As humans, our concept of love is very conditional. So when God says “I love you,” what naturally goes on in our minds? We think, “I need to please God in order to receive His love.” How do we try to please God. We try to keep the ten commandments. We try to pay a lot of offering. We try to be more healthy with our diet. Subconciously, we believe that when we please God, He will love us more. But is that true? No, it is not true. Because God’s love is not conditional like human love.