2014 – November – Nuggets of Truth

“You can only really love others unconditionally if you don’t need anything from them.”

There’s a scene in one of the classic “Peanuts” cartoon movies where Lucy tells Charlie Brown that his dog, Snoopy, loves him only because he feeds him. And indeed, Charlie Brown does provide something that Snoopy needs: food. Much to Charlie Brown’s dismay, he learns that Lucy is right—Snoopy’s “love” has been conditional all along.

We see the same scenario playing out in life. We may claim that we love others unconditionally. But what would happen if someone were to stop bringing our “food bowl”? If our “food,” for example, were the need to be seen as the person who is in control and has it all together, would we show unconditional love if one of our children were to have a run-in with the law? Or if our “food” were the need to be in a relationship to feel better about ourselves, would we show unconditional love to the spouse who no longer returns our love and affection?

Jesus is our example of unconditional love because he needed nothing from anyone. Nothing. Not from the Pharisees, not from his disciples, not from the people in towns and villages, and not even from His own mother, brothers, and sisters. Jesus needed nothing from others because He already had everything He would ever need from His Father in Heaven.

While He was on earth, we see Jesus turning to His Father in all matters—from the food He gave thanks for to the strength He would need to carry out His Father’s will on the cross. Rather than seeking to derive something from the people around Him, Jesus always had something to give them out of the overflow of His relationship with His Father. As a result, there were no conditions attached to Jesus’ love for others.

From a purely natural standpoint, when Jesus started His public ministry He had nothing—no job, no savings, no 401K, no wealthy benefactors. He didn’t even have a place to lay His head at night. And yet we never see Jesus seeking others for what they could do or provide for Him. The day He saw the tax collector, Zaccheaus, in the crowd, Jesus wasn’t thinking of Himself when he told Zaccheaus He would be dining with him at his house that day. Jesus’ only thought was the eternal welfare of this despised tax collector. Even while He was dying on the cross, His concern was not for His own needs, it was for the very ones who were killing Him.  “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” —a response that could have come only through unconditional love.

Jesus set the example by receiving everything He needed from His Father. And just as Jesus is our example, all we need to do is look to our Father as well to meet our needs through His unconditional love.  There is no need or concern we might have that our Father hasn’t already anticipated and made provision for.

“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” 2 Peter 1:3 (NIV)

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