God's Unbelievable Unconditional Love
This article is written by Mike Poole and is used with his permission.

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"Does God always love me no matter what I do?”

Unconditional love is an extremely rare quality in today's society and probably through the ages, yet the Bible says that God loves us completely no matter what we do.

What is Love?
First of all I think it's important to define what love is. If we know what it is we'll be able to spot it more readily. Because that’s what we can do with love, we can see it being acted out.

The New Penguin Dictionary includes definitions of love as:
1. Strong affection for another
2. Strong affection and tenderness felt by lovers
3. Unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another
4. The fatherly concern of god for man
5. A god or personification of love
6. To hold dear, cherish
7. To take pleasure in
8. To feel affection (MT23:37)

There are four types of love. The first is Philios love, a human love that is very selfish in nature. Stemming from man's innate desire to be accepted and loved, it is selfish in nature and expects reward in loving the beloved. Storge love, the second of the four, is more of a maternal type of love. It too, is a human type of love. Though less selfish than Philios, it expects reward for loving the beloved as well. It is a more solid type of love, being instinctual in nature, but nonetheless, it must be "rewarded" to keep on loving. Then there is Eros love, another human type of love. This is more of a physical type of love, yet it can also be nonphysical in nature. It too, is very self serving, and expects reward for loving. It is the love that is most often abused and misused, and confused for "love" when in fact, it is not "love" at all, but lust. Eros, as well as Philios and Storge, can be very beautiful loves. A close friendship, a bonding between parent and child, or lover and beloved, and a sexual union of man and woman as One Body. All three of the these loves are human in nature, meaning that they do not need God to exist. They do exist on their own, either separately or in conjunction with one or both of the others. But, being "human" types of love, they tend towards entropy and wither and die, as all things human must die. Unless they find a way to be cohesive to each other, by a bond beyond human strength and understanding, it is their destiny to dissolve, dissipate, and die. Fortunately there is a supernatural element that can and does bond the three loves together in an eternal way. That supernatural glue is Agape love, or...God's love.

In Isaiah 43:4 God says to the Israelite nation "I love you". What was God’s justification for loving them? was it because Moses had parted the Red Sea or because they were (sometimes) the most righteous people around? No, God says it was because they were precious in his sight and because they were honoured by him. He loved them because that was what he had chosen to do, in the same way that a mother loves her baby son even though he never does the dishes.

Look at the tense of God's love for the Israelites, it's in the present. Interesting, it seems that he loves us, end of story. He doesn't love us very much one day and then only a bit or not at all another day. There are no differing scales of love from day to day. This makes sense when we consider that time is irrelevant for God anyway (2nd Peter 3:8).

"ich habe dich lieb". No ifs, buts or maybes.

"Ahhh!” I hear you say, “That was the Israelite nation though”. “This is the only place in the Bible where God says 'I love you'. He doesn't say it about me". True; let's think about God's character for a moment or two.

In James 2:1-5 God teaches that we should not show favouritism:

"My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favouritism. For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, "You sit here in a good place," and you say to the poor man, "You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool," have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives? Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?"

If God’s love for us was determined by our righteousness (which it isn't) and he loved us before baptism (which he did – 1st Peter 2:9) when we were stealing, getting drunk, swearing and being immoral then surely he wouldn't give up loving us now that we have stopped these things and God sees us as pure!

It’s an amazing fact that God loves everyone the same, no matter what they have done. If he loves Hitler who was truly evil then I'm sure he can love us (Acts 2:21, 1st Timothy 1:15).

Impossible Not To
The clinching notion I have of God’s amazing love is that it’s simply impossible for him not to love us. He is the epitome of love and the standard by which we should compare our love (1st John 3:16). Consider for a moment God’s biggest commands such as the ones in Mark 12. Paul says that if we don’t love then we have nothing (1st Corinthians 13). He tells us we must love each other, it’s a spiritual law. He is desperate for us to love one another, he begs us to. He calls a lack of love sin (James 2:15-16, Matthew 25:31-46). Why did God make this law? Because he knew it was right. He’s speaking from experience. He wants to love us and calls for us to follow suit in loving one another. God does not ask us to do anything he does not do himself. We know that God has never done even the smallest sin (Revelation 1:14) even though he’s been tempted to do every single one. We can be pretty confident that he’s not going to change his mind after many, many thousands of years of being pure and not love you, thereby impurifying Heaven and himself as Jesus who is the pure atoning sacrifice that gets us into Heaven. If God did not love you it would not just be bad news for you, it would be a calamity the likes of which the Universe has not seen before as Satan wins the spiritual battle and we are all destined to eternal torment.

No Matter What
Often God will ask us to do things for him where the results are outside our control (e.g. Help someone become a Christian - 1st Corinthians 3:6). It would be a cruel God who withdrew his love from us because of something He hadn't done.

Difficult Issues
There are some passages which might make it seem as if God’s patience and love run out (e.g. Sodom and Gomorrah). This is not the case when we read these alongside other passages in the Bible which say that God wants everyone to come to repentance.

"Why doesn't God answer my prayers then?" He might say he loves me but I can’t see the evidence in my everyday life.

As we have seen already God is not a God who is unfair. It rains on the righteous and the unrighteous. We may pray for many things and not see them come about because God, being all knowing and wiser than anyone else, may decide that his plans are better in the long run.

2nd Peter 1:3-4 helps explain God's way of determining how to answer prayers. He's given us everything we need for life and godliness, because He wants us to be successful if we choose to live godly lives. The things we ask for are often along the lines of "it would be nice" instead of "I need this for life or godliness".