In this post I’d like to share a few thoughts about love, and specifically how love operates in the life of a Christian. I will argue that the Christian worldview presents a God who loves conditionally, and that this fails to satisfy our innate longing for unconditional love.
We have in the New Testament a wonderful definition of love given by the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 13. He says the following:
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
It’s interesting that Paul says love keeps no record of wrongs, as within the Christian worldview we all deserve punishment from God for our wrongs. It would seem that Paul’s definition of love doesn’t apply to God. In response to this point the Christian might say Jesus’ function is to erase the wrongs of those who turn from their sin and follow Him. That’s the condition that we need to meet to be deserving of God’s love.
In the above scripture Paul also says that love does not delight in evil, which makes me wonder whether God is delighting in evil when He casts unbelievers into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:15). Of course many Christians present the argument that God’s justice somehow demands that He must send unbelievers to hell, but this is a ridiculous argument because God is in control of all things and can do whatever He pleases. He is not compelled to do anything – that’s what makes Him God.
According to the Christian worldview, the only way to avoid God’s wrath and punishment is to obey the commands of Christ (see John 14:21). God’s love is not unconditional, but conditional. This puts the Christian in a rather difficult position, because during evangelistic activities he/she is compelled to convey the conditional love of God (with a warning about damnation), rather than unconditional love. I believe this creates an awkward tension, and is necessarily divisive. I believe people are often dismissive of Christians because the message of love is conditional, while we all have an innate desire to experience unconditional love. I believe this is the reason why a lot of the time people resist the call the follow Jesus.
Of course, Jesus knew that His message would be divisive (Luke 12:51-52).
I don’t think there’s any escaping the fact that the Christian worldview presents a God who is hostile towards some people. An alternative worldview would be one where every being is loved unconditionally by God, and in which Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, Bahá’ís, and others, all have an important part to play in God’s grand plan, which He is unfolding in accordance with His sovereign will. From this perspective, every human being has a purpose, and a unique calling, not only those who choose to follow Christ. While each individual journey may involve suffering as part of God’s intricately crafted plan, He eventually liberates everyone. That would be unconditional love.
If you’d like to explore the topics covered in this post in greater depth, you may be interested in my book entitled Ultimate Truth: God Beyond Religion. For more information or to buy the book, click here. Thank you for reading!