But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
During the summer, some teenagers go to sports camps. Others attend art or science camp. Not me. I spent a week at journalism camp in hopes of honing my craft and becoming the next Bob Woodward, Carl Bernstein, Joseph Pulitzer, or Ben Bradlee. I know it's extremely dorky, but my dream growing up was running into the Washington Post newsroom in the wee hours of the morning and yelling, “STOP THE PRESSES!”
This phrase wasn’t said lightly inside the newsroom. When you were up against a deadline, the last thing you wanted to do was delay the printing press. All the existing copies of a publication went straight into the garbage, which was a costly blow for a newspaper company. Whenever those words came out of a person's mouth, a reporter recognized they were about to hear significant news. This tidbit of information would change an entire story.
So, when God sent his son Jesus Christ to die on a cross and that same son conquered death, it was the ultimate “STOP THE PRESSES!” moment. The old system of how to become right with God had not only been thrown out, but fulfilled and replaced altogether. The divide between humanity and Creator was now made whole. One no longer had to go to the temple to experience God’s presence because the Holy Spirit could reside within them. The ultimate sacrifice took care of everything. The penalty for our sin was satisfied.
The headline of the Gospel is that we're loved without condition. The audacity of this message goes against everything we know and understand. It seems unfathomable and nearly impossible to believe. The God who created us, the One who knows everything about us, loves us anyway.
When we read this news, our natural inclination is to scan the paper looking for a retraction to this bold statement. It is too good to be true. We reason this has to be a misprint. The reporter got the facts wrong. God surely has to have some strings attached to the love He offers us. After all, we live in a culture where you have to earn your value and worth. But, according to the headline of love without conditions, this mindset puts us at odds with God and His economy.
As we try to wrap our mind around this headline, we have to pause and ask ourselves: what are the implications of God’s unconditional love for our life? Are we obeying God to prove our worth or as an expression of our faith? Are we trying to stack up our accomplishments to lessen the sting of the cross for God? Are we rejecting His unconditional love by attempting to make it conditional?
These are questions we must answer because the failure to receive unconditional love will drive you to manipulate everything else. The feelings of trying to earn God’s love will create enough pressure to destroy any life within you. You’ll spend your days either burdened by trying to earn your forgiveness or coming up with reason after reason of why God could never love a failure like yourself.
Accepting God loves you without condition cannot be an intellectual confession. Only the Holy Spirit can whisper into the depths of a desperate soul saying, “you are loved more than you can imagine.” And when you hear this whisper, all you can do is trust and surrender. When trust motivates obedience, the pressure to earn grace gets replaced by the freedom of being loved.
- The headline of the Gospel is "You're loved without condition." What is your response to this headline? How does this news leave you feeling?
God, help me to trust Your unconditional love. There are moments where I doubt this type of love exists. Either I want to prove my worth or languish in being unlovable. Instead, may my feet rest in the security of Your love. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.