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Unconditional Love

As a dad of three middle schoolers, it’s not very hard for me to be patient when a kid
scraps a knee, a toy breaks, or feelings are hurt. I can get a Band-Aid or ice pack, give
some hugs, and offer my attention. But recently one of my boys was playing aggressively
on a hammock in a way he knew he wasn’t supposed to. I heard a loud crash, and I
followed the screaming noise to find a boy sprawled out on the ground, wailing from the
shock of falling. Externally, I told my boy how sorry I was that he fell, but internally I was
fighting back the desire to yell, “I TOLD YOU NOT TO DO THAT!”
More often than not, compassion towards my kids comes easily, but it can be hard
when their pain is a direct result of an act of disobedience.
How does our Heavenly Father do it?  How does God respond with such consistent
patience, grace, and love? Moreover, it’s never a patronizing love. It’s not love with an
agenda or motive. It’s just sincere “I want you to know I’m here for you” love. It’s true
unconditional love.
It makes sense that God would comfort us when we lose our job for no good reason, or
when we’re abandoned and lonely, or when we’re inexplicably hospitalized. But it’s hard
for some of us to receive comfort when our pain may be a little bit our fault.
It’s hard to receive compassion when it’s my anger or pride that puts me in a rough
spot. It’s hard to receive God’s comfort when it’s my selfishness, addictive behavior, or
stubbornness that leads to loss or failure.
But the God of all comfort does an amazingly good job of not yelling, “I told you not to
do that!” The Heavenly Father, in the face of our failure, speaks love, kindness, and
I’ve heard it said, “God will show compassion when you’re hit by a car or when you’re
driving the car that hits someone else.  God will show compassion when you’re lied to or
when you’re the one who lies.”
The Heavenly Father’s unconditional love isn’t about us—it doesn’t hinge on our
response or our efforts or how well we behave.  His love and compassion aren’t
deserved or earned…they are freely given.
Years ago here at Hope, we started using the slogan, “Sinners Welcome.” We as a
church need to continue to reflect the image of Jesus and do what we can to
unconditionally love and welcome sinners. For me it starts by confessing my own sin and
weakness and receiving the unconditional love and compassion from the Heavenly
Father. As we receive the Heavenly Father’s undeserved love in our own lives, we can
then in return love others without motive or agenda.