by Stan Mitchell
Jesus loves me when I’m good,
When I do the things I should
Jesus loves me when I’m bad,
But it makes him very sad.
(From a children’s song, “Jesus Loves Me”)
I have often heard it said by religious people that “God loves us unconditionally.” Perhaps it’s the way it was said, or the context of the conversation, where the speaker seeks to free himself from his responsibilities that makes we wonder if we have understood God’s love correctly.
God loves us continually, profoundly, graciously.
“But God shows his own love for us in that while we were sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8, ESV).
He offers forgiveness for every sin, and to every sinner.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
Even when we have sunk to the lowest, slimiest pits of sin, he still loves us. Even in the pigpen of our own making, our father loves us.
- His love is unconditional, but his salvation is not.
- His love is constant, but his mercies are conditional.
The terms he offers are his terms. He demands that we change our lifestyle (“repentance”) — now that’s conditional. And he requires obedience to his will — that’s conditional, too. He commands immersion into Jesus Christ — a condition, to be sure.
Make no mistake, he loves the sinner. But he requires that the sinner leave the pigpen, and return home. Though he might accept me, “Just as I am,” be demands that from that beginning point, I begin to live like him!
“Repent, therefore and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out”(Acts 3:19).