Yes, the heart of Christianity is love, but what many people fail to realize is that unconditional love is not what Christianity is. Rather love is one characteristic of who Christ Jesus is.
Before addressing this concept let me point out that the term “unconditional love” is actually not in Scripture. This is a term we have taken and applied to a Scriptural concept. Unconditional love exists in the Bible, but it doesn’t mean what many people would like it to mean.
We don’t deserve God’s love, and by all rights because of our own corruption and evil we should be cut off from God forever. Yet despite us being what we are, He still offers us an invitation to Salvation. That’s what His unconditional love is—His willingness to offer the invitation of new life to us.
Saving us was not an obligation. It was not a requirement. It was not a need for God. He chose to offer us Salvation because of His love for us.
Unconditional love is the heart of God that invites us to accept His gift of incredible grace even when we have behaved so badly, betrayed Him so thoroughly, and have blown all our previous opportunities to turn from evil and instead live out what is good, right, and pleasing to Him.
Does this love mean that the new life He offers us is unconditional? No, it does not.
How do we know this? Because there are requirements asked of us. “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” John 14:15
Unconditional love is His willingness to give us the invitation but what the invitation invites us to is equally important. Because . . . if all you receive is the invitation and you don’t use it to access what it invites you to, then you have missed out on what is ultimately important.
What is Salvation and a new life?
Salvation is a rescuing from something, and a new life offered to someone who is already alive, implies that there is a current life in the equation.
If we don’t allow ourselves to be rescued and if we don’t give up our old life, then we have not actually accepted what it was that the invitation (the unconditional love) was actually trying to give to us.
But wait, doesn’t unconditional love mean no conditions?
It does, but unconditional love is the invitation, now what we’re talking about is what the invitation holds. We’re talking about receiving a new life and Salvation. His love remains unconditional regardless of the circumstances, but the accepting and living of the life He offers us is not unconditional. Many want to believe that they should be able to receive life and Salvation while their sin is overlooked by a loving God. “I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish,” said Jesus in Luke 13:3
A life without conditions is not unconditional love, it’s anarchy. Do you know what words are associated to anarchy? Lawlessness. Disorder. Chaos. Is this the life you would want from a loving God?
“Seek the LORD while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.” Isaiah 55:6-7
Challenge: Next time God’s unconditional love is used as an excuse for someone to do as they please, remind them that God’s love doesn’t bring unconditional living, it brings to them a loving invitation to repent and receive Salvation.