Unconditional Love Is Born On Christmas Day

In this fallen world, we don't know how to love unconditionally. But through Jesus we can experience and know unconditional love.

Unconditional Love Is Born On Christmas Day

December 23, 2021

“I’m not going to be your friend!”

In my years as an elementary teacher, I often heard this common refrain. Whenever someone hurt another’s feelings, or didn’t invite them to play, or said something offensive ~ the injured party responded by withdrawing friendship.

Sadly, I see this same scenario play out among adults. Someone hurts our feelings, so we pull back our heart. Someone doesn’t invite us to a gathering, so we write them off. Or someone posts something offensive, so we unfriend them on social media. Conditional love ~ it’s the norm in this fallen world.

But Jesus shows us a different way to love ~ unconditionally:

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. (John 15:13-14 NIV)

For His friends, Jesus willingly gave His life ~ demonstrating the greatest possible love. A cursory reading of these verses seems to imply Jesus will only call us friends if we obey Him. Only then will He lay down His life for us. 

But in actuality, Jesus invited us to become His friends when He went to the cross on our behalf. We choose to accept His offer of friendship when we believe and follow Him:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. (John 3:16-18 NIV)

I used to think Jesus agreed to die for me because He knew one day I would follow Him. He saw the ways I would serve Him, and so He willingly sacrificed His life for me. But one of my favorite passages of Scripture contradicts that idea:

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:6-8 NIV emphasis added)

When Jesus went to the cross, He didn’t see the good works I would do in His name. He didn’t see the person He would one day mold me to be. He saw my most imperfect self. My flawed, sinful self. He saw the parts of me for which I am the most ashamed, the deeds for which I have the deepest regrets. He saw the person I didn’t like, but didn’t know how to change. 

It was for that version of me He chose to die. It was for that person He demonstrated the greatest love possible. If He loved me the most when I was at my worst, there is nothing I can do now to make Him love me more. There’s also nothing I can do to make Him love me less.  

Through Jesus we receive unconditional love.

The birth of Jesus ushered in our path to salvation. But it also brought unconditional love to us in a tangible form ~ in the person of Jesus Christ.

In just a few days we will celebrate the birth of the One who showers us with His perfect love. Wherever our journey takes us, may His love fill our hearts with peace this Christmas. 

 

Unconditional Love Is Born On Christmas Day

December 23, 2021

In this fallen world, we don't know how to love unconditionally. But through Jesus we can experience and know unconditional love.

“I’m not going to be your friend!”

In my years as an elementary teacher, I often heard this common refrain. Whenever someone hurt another’s feelings, or didn’t invite them to play, or said something offensive ~ the injured party responded by withdrawing friendship.

Sadly, I see this same scenario play out among adults. Someone hurts our feelings, so we pull back our heart. Someone doesn’t invite us to a gathering, so we write them off. Or someone posts something offensive, so we unfriend them on social media. Conditional love ~ it’s the norm in this fallen world.

But Jesus shows us a different way to love ~ unconditionally:

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. (John 15:13-14 NIV)

For His friends, Jesus willingly gave His life ~ demonstrating the greatest possible love. A cursory reading of these verses seems to imply Jesus will only call us friends if we obey Him. Only then will He lay down His life for us. 

But in actuality, Jesus invited us to become His friends when He went to the cross on our behalf. We choose to accept His offer of friendship when we believe and follow Him:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. (John 3:16-18 NIV)

I used to think Jesus agreed to die for me because He knew one day I would follow Him. He saw the ways I would serve Him, and so He willingly sacrificed His life for me. But one of my favorite passages of Scripture contradicts that idea:

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:6-8 NIV emphasis added)

When Jesus went to the cross, He didn’t see the good works I would do in His name. He didn’t see the person He would one day mold me to be. He saw my most imperfect self. My flawed, sinful self. He saw the parts of me for which I am the most ashamed, the deeds for which I have the deepest regrets. He saw the person I didn’t like, but didn’t know how to change. 

It was for that version of me He chose to die. It was for that person He demonstrated the greatest love possible. If He loved me the most when I was at my worst, there is nothing I can do now to make Him love me more. There’s also nothing I can do to make Him love me less.  

Through Jesus we receive unconditional love.

The birth of Jesus ushered in our path to salvation. But it also brought unconditional love to us in a tangible form ~ in the person of Jesus Christ.

In just a few days we will celebrate the birth of the One who showers us with His perfect love. Wherever our journey takes us, may His love fill our hearts with peace this Christmas. 

 

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