Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus"1 (Lyrics)
Romans 8:35,37 – Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. (NIV)
I saw a memorable film on television. It was the story of a broken marriage — a story in which a teen-age daughter was very embittered by the break-up of her parents.
The father walked by the edge of the schoolyard at recess time to see if he could catch even a glimpse of his daughter. The girl saw him, and ran from the sight of him, screaming, "I hate you! I hate you!"
The father shouted back at her, "No matter what happens, I will always love you!"
The girl stopped and turned slowly around, and the father and daughter ran toward one another and met, throwing their arms around each other.
Like the father in the film, Jesus Christ loves us with God's unconditional love. The apostle Paul had no doubt about it. He said, "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:38-39 NIV).
Jesus Himself showed the extremity of His unconditional love when He prayed for the people who were crucifying Him: "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing" (Luke 23:34a NIV).
While Jesus hung on the cross, one of the two criminals on nearby crosses hurled insults at him: "Aren't you the Christ? Save yourself and us!" But the other criminal rebuked him. "Don't you fear God," he said, "since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong." Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise" (Luke 23:39b-43 NIV).
As Jesus received unconditionally the criminal who admitted his guilt and asked to be remembered, so Jesus receives all who confess and believe.
And Jesus asks all of us to love our fellow human beings unconditionally: "Love each other as I have loved you" (John 15:12b NIV). We can do it according to His example and in the strength of His Spirit.
Prayer: Our ever-loving Lord, cause us all to know and appreciate Your love to the extent that we will just naturally share it. Please show hurting people Your way to mend and to extend to one another Your unconditional love. Amen.