Going unconditional

When I’ve bought and sold businesses and houses the contracts always come with conditions. “I’ll buy the house, as long as you fix the leak in the ceiling, and as long as I can get finance”, or “I’ll buy the shares in your business, as long as I find out it doesn’t have any debt you haven’t told me about”.  Once all these conditions are met, the sale goes ‘unconditional’.

I’ve been thinking recently about unconditional love. Someone at Meeting last week gave ministry about having noticed recently that the things that annoyed her about other people were often the things that she hated about herself.  Once she realised that, it was easier to accept those things in herself, and then easier to love others.

How is it we can love our children unconditionally, our partners, and maybe at a stretch some close family members, but everyone else comes with conditions. “I’ll love you as long as you treat me nicely”, “I’ll love you as long as you don’t bomb my country”. It’s like there’s this little circle of light around us, but it’s only big enough for those closest to us.  The rest of the world is in the darkness of conditional love at best, at worst it’s unconditional hate. They have to ‘make the grade’ to get into our personal circle of unconditional love.

Maybe this makes sense. It might be dangerous to love everyone unconditionally.  It could be a big risk.  They might hurt us.  Maybe we do need to filter the bad people out to protect ourselves.

But what did Christ mean when he said “love thy enemy”. Was he talking about conditional love, or unconditional? Was he playing it safe? Love thy enemy is easy to say, but I imagine very hard to do. I’ve never really been challenged to do this in a significant way. Seeing the opportunity for it to happen to people in Lebanon, Israel, in the news in NZ, and even in our own communities and Meetings I think I can see why it would be so hard, and why it is so important to try.

Only then can we expand our circle of light. If we only give unconditional love to those who give it back to us, those who somehow ‘make the grade’, we’re unlikely to grow very much. And we’re even less likely to have a chance of healing those hurt by others in the past. If we can expand our circle of light even just a bit though, we might just be surprised by what happens.


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