……God's Unconditional Love…
(from a September 5, 1976 conference)

One of the great mistakes many of us make in thinking about God’s love for us is to think, either explicitly or without being conscious of it, that God’s love for us depends upon certain conditions.  We feel God will not or does not love us unless we fulfill certain conditions or unless certain things are true about us.  We feel uneasy about God’s feelings towards us because of certain things we have done or failed to do, or because we are this kind of person or that.  We feel that until and unless we change in some respects, God will not love us very much, if at all.

Make no mistake about this.  God’s personal love for you as an individual is quite absolutely unconditional. . . It is quite false to say that God will love you if this or if that.  Never let yourself think that God would love you if you did this or if you did that.  Never think of God’s love for you as an individual as being limited by any conditions whatsoever.  Why do we doubt God’s love for us?  We doubt it because we think it depends on us, that it depends on certain conditions and the way we live.  But it is impossible for God or God’s love for us to be dependant on us in any way.  God is utterly independent.  He is not dependant on anyone or anything in any way.

We say that we know that God is love, and then we go on to think that He would like to love us if we let Him.  If we let Him!  God does not wait for us to let Him do anything.  He may wait for us to do things, and often we keep Him waiting for that, but to do anything Himself, He waits for no one. . . We want God to love us.  We know that He wants to do so, but we half suspect that He does not do so, or at least not very much, because of our various faults and failings . . . We feel as if we have not fulfilled the conditions necessary if God is to love us, and all the time three are no such conditions necessary at all.  We are wrong when we think that we either have to, or even can, earn God’s love for us.

What I have said about not being able to earn God’s love is true, not because we cannot or ought not to do all we can to please God.  Of course we should, but you cannot earn or cause God’s love for you in any way, because it is already there.  And you cannot lose it either.  God’s love for us is unconditional and permanent.  He loves you with an everlasting love.  I want to be perfectly clear about this.  I am not saying we cannot displease God by our conduct.  I am not saying we are not able to go to hell if we want to.  I am simply saying that if you look at God and not yourself His love is there for you personally whether you respond to it or not.  It is your response that is crucial if you are to be untied with Him.  You are not trying to win His love but to give Him yours.  That is the struggle, a struggle to make yourself love Him more and more.

I do not want to be misunderstood.  I am not saying in any way at all that sin does not matter, or that our salvation does not depend on giving up sin.  I am not saying that there are not conditions to fulfill if we are to be holy and happy and have God dwelling in us.  All I am saying about God’s unconditional love is that it is there to start with and is there all the time and reaches you all the time.  The condition that you respond to God’s love is a condition for your reaching Him and for reaching union with Him.  It is not a condition for winning His love for you in the first place.  His love is always stretching out towards you and inviting you to come.

Although God does love you with His whole Self quite independently of your fulfillment of any conditions on your part, obviously He cannot dwell in your heart if that heart is full of sin or turned away from Him.  For God gave you your heart to be your own.  Whether you give it back to Him or not is in your hands.  There are plenty of conditions to be fulfilled if you are to be a saint.  We have to do and avoid many things if we are to become perfect.  There are plenty of requirements from us if we are to have union with God in love, and we have to make many free choices, many of them against our natural inclinations.  But God’s love for us is there all the time as we make these efforts.  We are not making them in order to win God’s love but in order to respond to Him, to give Him all of our love.  That is the difficult thing to do.

What a great step forward in the spiritual life it is when we really learn to trust our Heavenly Father like a little child, to trust His unconditional love for us.  We are perfectly safe as long as we place our trust in Him.  He will never stop loving or caring for us on this earth.  His love really is for you individually and it is not dependant on you for its existence.  What depends on you is your love for Him, and He helps you with that too.

What about the insecurity that sin gives us?  We are, after all, sinners, and we must detest sin.  There are various reasons for detesting sin, one of which is that it can lead us to separate ourselves from God forever.  Another reason is that apart from separating ourselves from God voluntarily by sin, we damage ourselves in a most tragic way.  But if you love God, your main reason for hating sin and fighting against it in yourself and in others with all your energy will be that fact that sin is un-love.  It is the opposite of love for God.  All God’s commandments, whether we see it or not, are concerned with making us able to love God and with removing obstacles to that love for Him.  Sin is un-love, and if you love God, sin is an agony for that reason.  We hate sin because we love God, not mainly because we love ourselves.  We hate sin because it displeases God rather than because it injures us.

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