Unpacking Unconditional Love

By Derek Braun | CFB Employee (3rd Year Student)

What is unconditional love?

There are a variety of actions, concepts, and examples that we experience that begin to suggest what unconditional love is. Conceptually, I like to think of parenthood as a form of unconditional love. There are no incentives in the way a mother or father loves their child besides wanting to witness their flesh and blood prosper. Other relationships, such as marriage and friendship, contain forms of love, yet there are oftentimes (if not always) conditions or stipulations to be met. This brings me back to my initial question, “What is unconditional love?” The action that undebatably constitutes unconditional love is Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.

Jesus became God incarnate and experienced pain and suffering. He gave up His life and human body to grant us grace and ultimately, eternal life. As followers of Jesus, how then are we to love?

1 Corinthians 13 is a passage which many of us are familiar with. It reads:
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (NIV).

While we can humanly try to define unconditional love, a human definition falls short and is unable to include all the things that love is. With that, I arrive at a definition of love that can be stated like this:

God is love. All the traits described in the passage from 1 Corinthians are characteristics of Yahweh. The good news of the Gospel is that love overcomes all things. Death, hate, and evil were all defeated when Jesus died and rose again. While we may not have an adequate definition of love, God encompasses all that needs to be said. His holiness reveals His true nature, beyond definition and full knowing, which then places love in that same place of mystery. However, we can embrace this mystery and walk the earth in a fashion to which we are called. As His creation, we are called to have the same unconditional love that Jesus shared with us. We can apply these traits to our own lives and be a bearer of the good news of the Gospel by sharing God’s love with others.

I began this piece with a question, and I will also end with a question for you to ponder. How can we embody the unconditional love of Jesus in our relationships throughout each day?

Center for Faithful Business

Seattle Pacific University

Dr. JoAnn Flett, Executive Director



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