Spiritual Thoughts - March 20, 2020

Unconditional

There are so many times when we wonder why certain things happened. Why sickness, death, war, and all other negative things. Sooner or later each of us will ask, “Why?” and we will realize that we know in part, we see in part, and we just can not find an answer to some questions.

Life’s possibilities come in pairs: good and evil, health and sickness, strong and weak, hot and cold and also pain and pleasure. It is like the two rails of a railroad. Existence of one assures the possibility of the other.

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Take love out of the human heart and you will also be taking away most of our capacity to get hurt as well as happiness. People who are afraid of being hurt choose not to love. But, no pain, no pleasure. Human soul is made in the image of God who is love and that means our soul not only needs to be loved, but also to love.

Love is the most powerful force in the universe as displayed by Jesus on the cross. Jesus came to earth with a mission, to pay our penalty, to save us from eternal damnation and to destroy the works of the devil that began in the Garden of Eden by deceiving Adam and Eve. People of the world whipped him, beating him for hours then crucified him. Because He loves us, He endured the pain.

God’s love is unconditional and indestructible. Jesus does not love us because we are good people.  Jesus loves us unconditionally means we do not need to make anything special for Him to love us. Of course, after He saves us we are summoned to respond to His grace with gratitude, with repentance, with worship, thankfulness, submissive obedience, all with a desire to put an extra smile to His face. There is free wisdom from God through the Bible for us to conduct our lives better.

As human beings we must make decisions. We must choose to love. The beauty of love is that love creates trust between the parties and that also is essential for relationship. Therefore, those who love us are precious to us, and we are the treasures of whom we love.

Lovers love one another unconditionally. Whatever the lovedone thinks, says, feels, or does, becomes important to the lover. Whatever you think, say, feel or do becomes important for me. Then of course whatever I think, say, feel or do becomes important for you. I find my fulfillment in contributing to your well being. You find your fulfillment in contributing to my well-being. I desire and willingly and spontaneously do whatever you see good. You do the same. I see your well-being, your life as an extension of my own well-being and life. And so do you. The thinking “I myself” becomes “we together,” and future fulfillment attempts are focused on fulfilling the “we together.”  I feel whatever I do for you as done for me. Such a degree of mutual love is “communion” and enables two people, two parties live as one. The selfishness of each does not exclude, but includes the other.

Unconditional love requires mutual participation in order to grow. If one side remains the lover, and the other side the loved one, it is no longer unconditional love; it is sheer abuse of love, leeching of the lover by the loved one. As much as the lovers love, that much the relationship will remain.

May I offer you a funny story about love?

A small animal, at night, enters the garden, smells the wonderful aroma of roses and tries to find them. It is dark, the animal can’t see anything, and does not know that the smell belongs to a rose. With his nose’s leading he finds the rose and puts his nose into the middle of the flower, the softness of the rose petals covering his face, deeply breaths in the gentle aroma of the rose and says with admiration “I love you.”

“Oh, come on!” says the rose, “you don’t love me. You love the pleasure of smelling me.”

“Yes, it is true,” says the animal, “but because this soft and gentle perfume belongs to you and you allow me to smell it, I love you. You are the owner of this aroma, you cheer my soul up, and you make my life beautiful. Because you give me this much just by being who you are, I am attracted to you so much and I love you.”

“Nope,” says the rose. “This is selfish love. I want you to love me unconditionally.”

“I thought I loved you unconditionally already, but I am ready to love you unconditionally to your satisfaction,” says the animal, “just tell me how to do it.”

“OK,” says the rose. “You came and enjoyed my flower. But I am a whole plant with leaves and stem and also I have some small thorns on my stem. Because it is dark you don’t see them. I want you to love me with my thorns.”

"No problem,” says the animal. “I love you with your thorns, though I don’t see them, I tell you that I choose to love you with your thorns as you are.”

“That’s not enough,” says the rose. “If you really love me unconditionally, you throw yourself into my arms and let me hug you and let me scratch your body with my thorns. You will bleed, but if you love me unconditionally, you should not complain.”

“But, isn’t that abuse of love?” the animal protests, and then asks, “Why do you twist the truth and call it unconditional love? By the way if this is your unconditional love, will you love me unconditionally in return? Do you want to feel in your leaves, in your stems, in your unopened flowers all that I have? You don’t mind if I sit down in the middle of your arms and sleep down, do you?”

“Absolutely,” says the rose. “I’d love to hold you in my arms and scratch all your body to bleed. I don’t know how you can love me when I do this to you, and I don’t know how you can sleep under these circumstances.”

“Don’t worry about it,” says the animal. “Your thorns can protect me from preying animals.”

“OK,” says the rose. “It’s really dark here and I can’t see you. Really, what’s your name, what kind of animal are you?”

The animal responds, “I am a porcupine!”

We are all roses and porcupines to one another.

Murat Kuntel is the pastor of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church.

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