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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Love Without Restraint

One of the most misunderstood phrases in today's verbage is 'unconditional love'; it's also somewhat of a misnomer! Well, at the very least, one could object, 'isn't God's love unconditional?' Well, actually, no, it's not! The One who created us loves us because we are His! Does that sound unconditional to you? To be fair though, when most creatures speak of their Creator's 'unconditional love', they are referring to the 'fact' that, as any good earthly father, our Heavenly Father loves each of His children irregardless of their obedience or consummated love! Though this 'fact' may be a questionable one, can even this love be called unconditional? It is simply Love, for God is Love!

Love, before we even consider trying to define it unconditionally, must itself be defined! In today's day & age, 'love' most often is defined, as the apostle Peter seemed to be determined to do ( John 21:15-19 ), as more of a warm, fuzzy feeling, a brotherly love, or comradery, rather than as an action one chooses to perform or not to perform! Unconditional Love, as we have witnessed, is usually defined as this brotherly love, this warm fuzzy comradery that knows no limits. Is it possible for a human being, especially one with the Love of God in them, to love unconditionally? Sure; as all things are possible with God, it's conceivable that such a person could exhibit that Love, seemingly without condition, but even then, is it truly Unconditional Love; is there even such a thing?

Scripture, through the words of the apostle Paul ( I Corinthians 13 ) tells us much about what Love is & isn't. 'Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.' (‭ I Corinthians‬ ‭13‬:‭4-7‬ ) Love, according to the apostle Paul, rather than being a feeling, was something one does or does not do! Now, as we've explored previously, feelings are usually involved in our practice of Love & so, usually are why Unconditional Love is a misnomer, particularly for human beings!

It is evident that, especially in the past, Christians have shown an Unfailing Love, or Love Without Restraint! There is no doubt that, through the Love of God, many, even though Martyred for the Cause, have allowed the Love of God to shine through their actions & persevered in doing rightly, even though it cost them their biological life! Even though unrestrained, this was not an unconditional love, but was in fact conditioned on their being a fellow creature!

We have noted before, as well, that a love based on feelings is merely a brotherly love, a warm fuzzy feeling that can change like the weather! It is a well-established fact that feelings change & when they do, it's often like night & day! One day, this person would die for the other & the next moment they want to kill the other! One day one never wants to leave the side of the other & before you know it, that one can't get far enough away! Such is the 'love' most people practice today; based on feelings, it is blown by the wind!

Love Without Restraint, on the other hand, is more like what our Heavenly Father has shown us & what the apostle Paul described in his first letter to the Corinthians! True Love knows no bounds! Like its Creator, Who is indeeed the Embodiment of it, it is boundless, everlasting, eternal! As He shows Love Without Restraint for His Creation, so we, unrestrained by boundaries such as suffering, envy, pride & anger, may choose to love those that hate us & do rightly to those who wrong us?

Love, except as Embodied by the Creator Himself, cannot be unconditional! What we practice toward others, right or wrong, is conditional. Our choices are most often, like it or not ( even the 'best' of us ) based on our feelings; it's simply the human condition & the fact of the matter! We can, however, practice Love Without Restraint, for that is simply to do what is right to your neighbor, whether or not he or she is doing rightly. The question therefore is, 'are we commissioned to Love Without Restraint?' I leave you with this question!

Charles Haddon Shank

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