But, as a matter of fact, it matters very little to me what you or any man thinks of me. I don’t even value my opinion of myself (1 Corinthians 4:3).
God created us for relationship. We’re designed by God to relate to Him as a spiritual Father. From Him we are to receive love, nurture and guidance. Of course, sin separated us from God and brought along with it fear and the tendency to hide from God and others. Christ made a way for us to be reconciled to the Father so totally that there is no longer a fear of Him or a desire to hide. We can now approach the throne of God with the boldness of a baby running into its parent’s arms!
The Father gives us unconditional love. That means that there are no conditions that we have to meet for Him to care about us. He loves us when we perform well, and He loves us when we fail. He offers forgiveness and cleansing to us when we miss it. If we confess our sins, He is faith and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).
During the time of the crucifixion, Peter denied Jesus three times in the presence of others. When Jesus was raised from the dead, an angel mentioned Peter by name to those who came into Jesus’ tomb to anoint His body for burial. But go, tell His disciples — and Peter — that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you (Mark 16:7). The Lord doesn’t turn a cold shoulder to us when we miss it and fail. He loves us and offers to us another chance. For a righteous man may fall seven times And rise again, but the wicked shall fall by calamity (Proverbs 24:16).
There is such a freedom in being loved with no strings attached. Most of us have never experienced that kind of love and acceptance from anybody!
In the study course Search for Significance, one of the four false beliefs that are common to man is those who fail are unworthy of love and deserve to be punished. We are treated this way in most of our relationships. So when God offers unconditional love, it seems awkward. We feel that we must in some way pay Him back for His forgiveness. But the Father’s love and forgiveness are free gifts to us! We don’t deserve His unconditional love and we can’t work for it. It’s a free gift from Him.
When you learn to accept the Father’s love and forgiveness personally, you are then enabled to give that same unconditional love and forgiveness away to others! It takes a while for it to sink into your thought life that the Father could actually love you and accept you when you mess up! Once you grasp this amazing love He has for you, your relationship with Him will be transformed, and in turn your relationships with others will deepen.
Next time I’ll talk about how to overcome the conditioning that keeps us isolated from others.