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Friday, March 3, 2017

Are the conditions met?

Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. (Romans 8:35,37 NLT)

I'd have to say that most of us go through life with a flawed perspective on what true love is - simply because of the fact we equate love to some sort of "feeling" or "condition" that is met / not met. While I am not the expert on love, I do realize that reliance upon emotion has not proven very trustworthy and if I only had only received love in this lifetime because the "conditions" were met perfectly, I probably wouldn't have experienced much love! There have been far more times when I didn't "perform well" and experienced overwhelming love nonetheless. There have also been times when emotions just weren't there, but all the "expressions" of love were quite evident.

We focus a great deal on "performance". If we aren't evaluating our own performance against some "standard", we are busy evaluating someone else's. More than anything else, God wants us to realize his love for us is not based upon our performance, but upon a standard ALREADY having been met in his dear Son, Jesus. This is why he can proclaim with certainty that there is absolutely NOTHING that can ever separate us from his love - despite our performance and even in the midst of confusing emotions - his love continues to be deep, everlasting, and forward-moving. This last point is important for us to get - his love is "forward-moving". It doesn't focus on the "what should have been", or "what could have been". It focuses on what is and what will be - because he sees the performance of Christ in us, not how far we fall short of it!

God's love moves us on - it keeps us moving forward in the midst of "poor performance" or disappointing outcomes. It doesn't focus on the outcome of what "was", but directs us forward to see what we "will become" because Christ dwells within us. God sees the possibilities even in the midst of improbability. He notices the glimmers of obedience, even when the outcome may not have ended as well as we'd have hoped. We base all of our perception of love on how "well" we do, but when we only see love from this vantage point, we oftentimes won't want to move on because we don't see any hope in making any further effort in a relationship or circumstance. 

God's love isn't conditional, while human love tends to focus on the conditions. We want to have the right "condition of heart" - complete with all the emotions that signal we are loved and appreciated. We want to experience the right set of "circumstances" that signal we are on the right track when it comes to giving love to another. To understand God's love, we need to remember he looks at each circumstance or action through the "lens" of Christ's finished work on the cross. Yes, our performance may stink. Yes, our emotions may lead us down wrong paths. Yes, we might not always be very lovely or kind. Yes, we kind of get a little too "me" focused on occasion. But...nothing separates us from the love of God because we are IN CHRIST, redeemed, loved, and made right with God. Therefore, overwhelming victory is ours! Just sayin!