Unconditional Love of God? A Different Perspective
By Lim Cheng Teck
An expression that we hear often these days is ‘the unconditional love of God’. Some preachers and worship leaders used this expression during worship services, to mean that God loves us, no matter what. However, this is not what the Scriptures say. Without a doubt, God loves us, enough to send his Son to die as a sacrifice for our sins, but it would appear that the above expression is often taken out of context. Let me explain.
God’s love must be seen in the light of the need for our repentance to restore our relationship with our Creator. God’s love for us must not be used as an excuse for continuing to sin.
Repentance means to stop doing that which is against God’s will. John the Baptist preached a message of repentance. (Luke 3:3) Jesus himself said, “but unless you repent, you too will perish.” (Luke 13:3) Peter, whom the Lord commanded to take care of His flocks following His ascension, said in Acts 3:19, “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out …” The New Testament and the gospels are full of examples of the need for repentance and belief in God, in order that our relationship with God may be restored. Without repentance, the gap in our relationship with God can never be bridged. God abhors sin. In Genesis 3, following Adam’s disobedience, God said, “cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life.” Then, He drove both Adam & Eve out of Eden. Henceforth, our relationship with God is broken. Repentance is the only way back to God.
God delivered a very strong message for repentance, through the prophet Amos, to the people of Israel. He said, “I hate, I despise your religious festivals; your assemblies are a stench to me. Even though you bring me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them. Away with the noise of your songs; I will not listen to the music of your harps.” (Amos 5:21-23). Strong words indeed, but God demands true repentance of the heart. This is a message of substance over form. Without repentance, there is no reconciliation with God.
God has made the first move, by sacrificing His Son for our sins. Are we ‘stiff-necked’ like the Israelites who turned away from God on many occasions after He had delivered them from Egypt. The message delivered through Amos is one of many that God has made. The message is abundantly clear, and repeated many times in The Scriptures. The only way to be reconciled with God is to repent.
Unconditional love of God? It is more appropriate to refer to the unfailing love of God, as David cried out in Psalm 51:1-2, “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion, blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.” We must respond similarly to the unfailing love of God, who said, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)
Unconditional love of God? I think not. It is not scriptural. The Scriptures tell us that we must repent from our sins in order to restore our relationship with God and enjoy His unfailing love.