Undeserved Love?

Undeserved Love? November 21, 2018

 

There we were, sitting in a new church on a Sunday morning. Having just moved to a new town only a month ago, after living in Southern California for 25 years, my wife and I were mostly looking for an opportunity to gather with other Christ-followers. Our long-term plan is still to start another house church family here, but in the meantime, we were just looking for an opportunity to fellowship.

 

So, the worship set that morning was great. But during the announcements there was something said that really bothered me. The guy up front mentioned that they were putting together Christmas boxes for local school kids as part of an initiative to help less fortunate children. Kinda cool, right?

Well, as the guy was explaining why the church does this, he said the main reason was “so that we can show these kids some undeserved love.”

Now, I know what he probably meant by that, but it really bothered me. Like, all day long.

As soon as he said it, I immediately wrote in my little notebook the words, “Everyone deserves love.”

On the one hand, I can forgive the misspoken sentiment. Assuming it was misspoken. That’s the part I’m not sure of. Because there’s still a chance that the guy making this announcement meant exactly what he said and possibly even chose those words carefully.

See, if you think that humans are basically evil, then you probably believe that those children are wretched sinners at heart. At least, the non-Christian kids are.

So, you tell yourself that by putting these little gift boxes together, you’re expressing the love of Christ to these kids, and you’re probably also thinking to yourself that the love of Christ is undeserved love.

To be fair, the guy making the announcement (who turned out to be their Senior pastor) probably also believes that Christians don’t deserve the love of Christ either. So, it’s not like he’s looking down on those kids. He may just be looking down on everyone, including himself.

But, I really challenge this whole concept that none of us deserves the love of Christ.

Why? Well, for one thing because this is never taught in the entire New Testament. Nope. Not once.

What we do see is that the love of God, and the love of Christ is described as being beyond our comprehension, and bigger and taller, and deeper and wider than we can possibly imagine. We’re told that God is love. We’re told that nothing will ever separate us from God’s love, or the love of Christ. We’re told that God’s love is perfect, that God’s love changes us, and that God’s love compels us to love others with the same love we have been loved with.

But never, not once, does the New Testament ever say that we do not deserve God’s love.

Think about it this way: would any parent ever say to their child: “I love you so much. But, you don’t deserve my love.”

Of course not. So, if God is a better Father than you or I could ever be, then it’s guaranteed that God would never tell us that we don’t deserve to be loved.

Everyone deserves the love of God.

Why? Because we are made in the image of God. (And God is love).

Because we are all the offspring of God. (And what Father doesn’t love his children?)

Because God says we are loved. (And what more proof do we need than this?)

So, the next time you feel compelled to bless someone who is less fortunate, or to show kindness to a stranger, or even to do something nice for someone in your family, or even for yourself, please, please keep this in mind: Everyone deserves to be loved, and everyone is already loved by God.

There is no such thing as “undeserved love” because, like it or not, we are loved with an everlasting love by a God who is love, and who created us to love and to be loved.

Don’t you just love that?

**

Keith Giles was formerly a licensed and ordained minister who walked away from organized church 11 years ago, to start a home fellowship that gave away 100% of the offering to the poor in the community. 

His new book “Jesus Unbound: Liberating the Word of God from the Bible”, is available now on Amazon and features a Foreword by author Brian Zahnd.

He is also the author of the Amazon best-seller, “Jesus Untangled: Crucifying Our Politics To Pledge Allegiance To The Lamb” with a Foreword by Greg Boyd.

Keith also co-hosts the Heretic Happy Hour Podcast on iTunes and Podbean. He and his wife live in Meridian, Idaho, awaiting their next adventure.

BONUS: Want to unlock exclusive content including blog articles, short stories, music, podcasts, videos and more? Visit my Patreon page.

 

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Al Cruise

    It probably wasn’t misspoken. A few years back I had a similar experience. We started an evening service for people who were marginalized in soiecty. Once the attendance started to grow it got noticed by leadership, and they started to pressure us to make these people attend a morning service. We said leave it to them to decide that without any pressure from anyone. Finally the lead pastor came and said they need to come to morning worship service because that’s where the real blessing was. We continued to resist and finally he came back and said all these people needed was a good kick in the ass. We left and moved into a community hall.

  • Iain Lovejoy

    You can’t love someone and at the same time think they don’t deserve your love. You might behave in an apparently loving fashion towards them because you felt you ought to, or to demonstrate to yourself or others how virtuous and generous you are, but if you didn’t actually think that they themselves were worth loving, you would not, in fact, love them, you would just be being charitable towards them as a means to some other end.

  • raven nevermore

    Does a sociopath deserve love? Does a psychotic killer deserve love? I think you get my point! Some people do not deserve love, not only for who they are but namely because of what they consistently do. Sure, I know too what you mean, however it is wrongheaded thinking.

  • Iain Lovejoy

    Love is not a reward for services rendered, or a judgement passed on someone’s morals or behaviour, but a belief that there is an inherent value in a person that is precious and worth preserving. All people are precious and worthy of love because they are unique and made by God in his own image.
    A sociopath or psychotic killer has greatly marred that image in themselves and trapped themselves in a miasma of sin. It is at that point that they are most in need of love, and are the worthy object of affection of a love that holds the image of God within them as precious and longs to see it restored.

  • raven nevermore

    I shall appeal to a notwithstanding clause to your well reasoned comments; all true in what you say. However, that does not nullify that such people are still undeserving of love since they will take that love as a weakness, indeed, not even acknowledge it as love or not care. In short, some people, although deserving of love, are not worth it. Consider infamous despots, too.

  • Iain Lovejoy

    Love does not require reciprocation.

  • raven nevermore

    Yes, so we agree.

  • Herm

    On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?

    “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

    He answered, “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

    “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

    Luke 10:25-28

    This short answer; love is a bond we live by only because we do love, not because we deserve love. Without love we die. There is one body of mankind (flesh), as there is one body of God (spirit), that stands united or falls divided.

    These are some of the English words we consider synonymous with the word love: empathy, compassion, tolerant, forgiving, merciful, care, caring, regard, solicitude, concern, friendliness, friendship, kindness, charity, goodwill, sympathy, kindliness, altruism, unselfishness, philanthropy, benevolence, fellow feeling, humanity, … .

    Also, refer to 1 Corinthians 13 to understand more fully what we consider the value of love to be, that we, children of Man and children of God, must do to live.

    What child deserves love? … trick question … only the child who loves first as (s)he would have others love her/him. Children are still loved first by those who know to love, instinctively and/or intellectually, before they learn to love beyond themselves, as is mankind, graced the aware and influential image of God, loved first by God who knows all love of heart, of soul, of strength, of mind.

    If I would have others die for me on their cross, for nothing I have done beyond being a fellow member of mankind they can empathize with, then I must pick up my cross for them, for the same reason. I do love my merciful neighbor, as myself, because I understand my need for mercy shared through undeserved love from others. I do love my enemy because we are fellow members of the same single body I love. I trust that my enemy might only be able to reconsider (repent) when they see the error of their way by my love. They each, too, are as empathizable by each of us as only those who share to survive within the same body of mankind (in heart, soul, strength, mind) can be.

    Christ, as the Son of Man, leads the way to know that God loves us, each undeserving first, of mankind with all their united hearts, souls, strengths, minds. Only if we follow the Son of God’s example, as well as that of our heavenly Father’s will, might we live. If we teach our children, who we as parents chose to give their opportunity of life, who we love each first without merit, to follow in the same Spirit, then they will live.

    We live because we do love, and are loved first, not because we ever will deserve love. Not one of us can earn what we’ve first been given by grace. Not one of us chose to live at all. Each of us can choose to live as a child, united as one in the body of God, who loves with all their heart, with all their soul, with all their strength, with all their mind, and exactly like that, loves first their neighbor as they would have their neighbor love them.

    Any fellowship, by any name, who practices first the uniting attitude of unmerited love for their merciful neighbor as themselves (and theirs), as well as loves their enemy with no expectation of their enemy reciprocating, is good (constructive and productive for mankind).

    Any fellowship, by any name, who first practices the divisive attitude of me and mine is deserving before all other members of the body of mankind is evil (destructive to mankind).

    If, in everything, we all do love all others, deserving or not, as we would have all others love us on this earth, it would be heaven for all, today.

  • Yes, sociopaths and psychotic killers deserve love. Studies show that one of the main reasons people become this way is the lack of love. If my son killed people, I would still love him. Not because of what he did, but in spite of it. Everyone deserves love.

  • Cleanslate

    Love is a response to a need; it is not compensation/reward for being deserving/worthy of it.

    A violent psychopath deserves to be separated from society so that he cannot harm others; but what he needs is the exact opposite of that. Since he is devoid of even a semblance of empathy he is incapable of understanding the feelings and needs of others. This can result in horrific
    monstrous acts of violence against his victims.

    The psychopath has an acute, extreme need for the ability to have empathy for others. What he needs is to be healed from his pathological narcissism and be given an empathetic connection to others.

    Grace, the unconditional kindness of God, seeks out those in the greatest need: the most godless and godforsaken among us. They are the least deserving and therefore the most in need.

  • raven nevermore

    Yes is not what I am saying. Such people do not deserve love. Not every evil person deserves love. Why? Because such people do not understand love nor appreciate others giving love – all as an experience but only as an intellectual event. Showing love to such people is a waste of love and life.