Loving unconditionally

We’re told in the Bible to love our enemies, and that even though everything else will pass away, love will last forever. This is not love in the romantic sense, but in the sense that we value, respect, and honour everyone around us, regardless of whether they are like us or they agree with us.

I have now read two of Donald Miller’s books in the last couple of months, first being lent A Million Miles in a Thousand Years whilst on holiday, and then at home picking up Blue Like Jazz which has been on our shelf for a while. He is full of deep thoughts and brutally honest critiques of himself which inspire him to do something about changing. He seems to learn from every situation he is in and whomever he is around.

But here’s the thing I’ve most noticed. Everyone he talks about in the book, he writes about them as beautiful, amazing people. It makes me want to meet the people he’s met as they seem like the most interesting, wonderful people in the world. In the third-to-last chapter, you find out how he manages to do that.

He talks about the metaphors that are used regarding certain subjects. For example, when we think about cancer, we use words like battling cancer, overcoming cancer, fighting cancer. They are all war metaphors which raise the level of fear about the disease. Cancer is something to be fought.

What about love. Often with love and relationships we use economic terms. We invest in people. We value people. We give our time  to people we love. Some relationships become bankrupt. These metaphors are economic because we think about love as conditional. We only show love to people if we think they are worth it or our love will be valued. We struggle to truly give something for nothing, to receive something for nothing, and therefore to love unconditionally. Yet grace is unconditional, and God’s love for us is unconditional. It is not an economic contract.

Jesus’ said love your enemies. Why should we do that? With the economic metaphor of love, there is no point. But because we are loved, and they are loved, we should love. We are able to see Jesus in them and the barriers are broken down. So, I guess, Donald has been able to see a little bit of Jesus in everyone he meets. Even when he doesn’t like them, he loves them, and then he finds he likes them.

There was a guy that was really getting up his nose, annoying him and Donald got all defensive and judgemental, trying to change the other person. After he’d worked all this stuff out, here’s what happened.

After I repented… I didn’t have to discipline anybody, I didn’t have to judge anybody, I could treat every body as though they were my best friend, as though they were rock starts of famous poets, as though they were amazing, and to me they became amazing, especially my new friend. I love him. After I decided to let go to judging him, I discovered he was very funny. I mean, really, hilarious. I kept telling him how funny he was. And he was smart. Quite brilliant, really. I couldn’t believe that I had never see it before. I felt as though I had lost an enemy and gained a brother.

The people Donald meets aren’t any more or less extraordinary than the people you or I meet. They are equally as loved by God as you or I, and equally as unique and special.

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