“I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God…” Romans 8
Can we truly imagine being unconditionally loved? Many of us have probably said this to someone we know, or have – blessedly – heard it from someone who loves us. But do we genuinely believe it?
Maybe when we imagine a scene like the one in this picture, we can embrace the idea that there are no conditions. (My new grandson – my first grandchild – has surely refreshed my own idea of unconditional human love.)
But Paul, in his letter to the Romans, is obviously speaking of God’s unconditional love. And I confess that I played a little fast and loose with the quotation; in Scripture, the sentence actually ends, “…from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Why did I leave that out? A couple of reasons. First, in my experience, some of the most Christ-like love I’ve ever witnessed has issued from the hearts of people who would simply not identify themselves as Christians. Second, a lot of people who have been indoctrinated into the notion of God’s unconditional love have experienced it in a way that looks a lot like this photo.
Sometimes, in the institution that is the church, God’s love is held out before us like a really delicious sandwich – with a cool refreshing drink on the side - just beyond our reach, and only proffered with a string of conditions that are either harsh, absurd, or impossible to live up to.
We might well have a fruitful conversation about what it really means to be “obeying Christ.” And it might even be that we don’t fully experience God’s unconditional love until we understand the life-changing effect that love can have on us. It might not be, look like, or sound like, what that scold holding the sandwich describes. And yes, it might even be deeply challenging of our way of seeing the world and acting in it.
But it is love, and it is unconditional. For everyone. Really.
We are always exploring this puzzling, delightful, troubling question in our worship life, and in our conversations about the shape and invitations of our faith.
And we’d love to welcome you into this conversation with the holy. We worship Sunday mornings at 10 AM. And, in a host of different ways, lots of other times as well.