Jesus became the most upset with the religious elite of His time because they got the main thing wrong. Christians may be doing the same thing today. Rules are emphasized more than having a relationship with God. God is portrayed more as a God of wrath than love. It is assumed God is more offended by what sin does to Him than what it does to us. God desperately want us to know He loves us unconditionally, as do all loving parents, because that is who God is.
The fear of God was on display in the Bible when nations participated in such things as child sacrifice to please their supposed gods. Jesus got His dander up the most when the religious acted as if true religion was self-serving rather than self-sacrificing. God’s wrath or tough love was only to deter people from self-destruction. Fear-based theology has been a misguided attempt to control our behaviors to produce unselfishness. Fear doesn’t lead to life-changing transformations. Has gloomy uncertainty as to God’s favor conquered your battles against self-centeredness or long-standing habitual sins? Having an intimate friendship with God is what really transforms us into the kind of person we want to be.
Humans do not understand relationships better than our Creator. Parents know the fear of punishment is only meant to encourage their child to run from evil and is not what the relationship is based on. The main thing is a friendship gained over time that will help children to know us and act on our guidance which is always in their best interests. Our obedience has absolutely nothing to do with God’s love for us. It only effects how we feel about our relationship with God. God certainly grieves selfish choices because of the pain it will cause His children, but God doesn’t stop loving us any more than our human parents stop loving us.
Understanding God’s unconditional love is the only way to conquer the ultimate problem in our life – selfishness. We want the fear of God in killers to stop evil, but this doesn’t lead to changed hearts. God thankfully does not give up hoping or forgiving, or we may never make important life changes. Sometimes we cannot stop hating ourselves for committing the same sins over and over. God doesn’t give up after the 10th relapse. God doesn’t heap guilt on us; selfishness already does that for non-evil folks. We can start off each day knowing God is in our corner.
God was not concerned about giving us a license to keep sinning. We sin without applying for a license. Sin has its own consequences. You can’t yell at your partner and expect to have any kind of relationship. God’s anger doesn’t bring about desired reconciliation. We are inspired to serve well a boss who truly values us and we deeply respect. When we understand what God is really like and how much He loves us, we will be more empowered to act in the best interests of others and our own. The only law God is concerned about is the law of love.
There are so many reasons we must understand God’s unconditional love for us:
- God’s unconditional love provides comfort to those whose failures afflict their consciences. We know we cannot meet God’s standards much less our own, no matter how hard we try. We do not have to give up though.
- God’s unconditional love allows us to continually seek forgiveness and acknowledge our wrongs before God without worrying that we destroying God’s love for us. Sin has its own consequences. Our failures do not change our statue with God. We can remain empowered than discouraged. God is keeping record – every act of kindness no matter how small.
- God’s unconditional love gives us hope that it is never too late to start. God’s accounting system is different than ours (Matthew 20). Do we really want an exact accounting?
- God’s unconditional love enables us to overcome temptations, which only seem at the time more pleasurable than intimacy with God. Temptation can be overcome because we have a loving God we can always go back to, not some tyrant who delights in punishing us.
When we understand God loves us unconditionally, we can avoid taking too much pride in ourselves. Pride only leads to comparing ourselves to others causing individual and relational discord. When we start to focus on our goodness, we may lose focus on all our shortcomings. God encourages perfection, not just reaching certain “good” standards. It isn’t that our good works are filthy, but God desires we be the very best we can and not just being better than others. It is only when we understand our shortcomings that we reach out to God for help, which leads to true happiness and being the kind of people we want to be.
We may want to give up but we can know each day God starts off anew. God’s love and grace provides comfort to those whose failures afflict their consciences. God does not heap on more hate for constantly falling short. God gives us confidence to continue to pursue selflessness despite our regrets. A priority on God’s unconditional love does not do away with holiness but makes it possible. True intimacy with God inspires us toward life transformations.