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Is the Christian God's love unconditional?

(903 Posts)
Woolmark Wed 20-Nov-13 19:57:20

Ok, some questions which have been playing on my mind, I am genuinely interested.

Surely his love is on the condition that you are a) a Christian and b) follow his rules?

Also, if God loves everyone as much as he does, why can't he save everyone by simply appearing to them? If I could save my children by doing this then I would in an instant, rather than turning up at the end and destroying the ones who weren't Christian.

Dutchoma Wed 20-Nov-13 20:28:22

Ok some attempts at answers. Yes God loves everyone unconditionally. The rules are there for our benefit. We will be happier if we stick to them as God knows better than we do what will make us happy.

God does not only love Christians and He also does not judge people for not knowing Him.
However God does not force you to have a relationship with Him, He leaves that up to every individual to make up his/her own mind. You have free will to enter into a relationship with God or to refuse. God will not make you, that is not the plan. So if you have spent your whole life denying God, then at the end of it there is not magically going to be that relationship. I have God's promise that He will never leave me in the lurch and that life nor death can separate me from the love that is in Christ.
I cannot say what will happen to other people and do not feel that I need to know that either. I just know for myself that I would not be without God and I wish that everybody knew the happiness that brings me.
Jesus has appeared in the world and there were people who believed in Him and people who did not.
Your children will not always believe you when you say that you have their best interest at heart.

Woolmark Wed 20-Nov-13 20:39:46

Thanks Dutch, that was really beautifully put!

I'm struggling a bit with The Bible, especially the message within 'Revelations', I like to think the way you do but after reading The Bible I'm struggling to believe his love is unconditional.

Dutchoma Wed 20-Nov-13 20:57:34

I think Revelations is for mature Christians who have come to terms with their own beliefs.
If you want a book to read try 'It makes sense' by Stephen Gaukroger. He makes it all very clear.It costs a fiver from Amazon iirc.
I hope you will be able to read the Bible in such a way that it does make sense to you. Are you attending a church at all?

Woolmark Wed 20-Nov-13 21:37:43

I've just ordered it, thank you, and only £2 in total grin.

Yes I do attend Church and have a few Christian friend who are helping me on my journey as well as helpful on here. I just have so many questions but I'm starting to realise it ok not to believe exactly the same things as every other Christian.

capsium Wed 20-Nov-13 21:56:26

I was thinking how difficult it can be to reach some people, as they close themselves off, after listening to this song today.

zulubump Wed 20-Nov-13 21:57:13

Sorry to jump in here but have a question or two of my own, related to the OP's I think. I do agree with what you say, Dutchoma, about how God leaves it up to our free will to enter into a relationship with him and would not force us. However, I then think of Paul's conversion on the road to Damascus - he was struck down (blinded I think) and from my not so good memory of the story, he was not given much choice in being converted to being a believer in Christ.

So, as woolmark was wondering, why don't we all get some kind of experience like this to convince us? It would be a bit dramatic I know! But I have also heard of people who've said that they were not believers, but then had some kind of experience where they felt Christ was there with them. My questioning mind wonders why some people get these experiences and others don't?

niminypiminy Wed 20-Nov-13 22:40:54

There's not just one kind of experience of God. Very, very few people have the kind of dramatic experience that Paul is reported to have had, and for many of us our direct experiences of God -- when we feel that Christ is there with us, for example -- are few and far between (although life-changing when they come).

But God doesn't simply speak to us through fireworks and dramatic experiences. We are just as likely -- more likely -- to encounter God in other people, in silence, in music, through the Bible, in moments of darkness when we feel alone.

God speaks to us in all sorts of ways -- he is trying to speak to us all the time. But his ways aren't our ways. Like Aslan in the Narnia books, he comes when you least expect him. One way of thinking about prayer is learning to hold yourself in hopeful readiness, attuning yourself to the ways that God is trying to reach you, and reaching out to him in longing to meet him.

We can't all be Paul (thank heaven!), but we can all be like Paul in one respect. When God does speak to us we can be ready to let it change and shape us, and to follow his call wherever it leads us.

Dutchoma Thu 21-Nov-13 11:07:35

Not one Christian believes the same thing or the same way as any other Christian. People have vastly different experiences of how they understand the Bible. God loves us all. And thank God he loves us warts and all.
One thing that occurred to me overnight from your OP: read John 3:16. God did not come to condemn the world, but His love is so great that he came to save us.

Dutchoma Thu 21-Nov-13 11:14:10

And to Zulubump yes, I have often had arguments with God over the fact that he does not make my loved ones into believers. The only way I can 'let God off the hook' is by thinking that this was an exception. God needed Saul to be Paul and this was the only way to do it. But as Niminy says, God speaks in very many ways and most unbelievers I come across have heard Him but do not want (for whatever reason) to listen. That is ok as far as God is concerned, as I said before He won't make you, but you cannot feel the benefit of the sun if you insist in hiding in the cupboard under the stairs.

Bramshott Thu 21-Nov-13 11:15:47

There is a Rebecca West quote I have written down somewhere about how God "humbles himself to ask for love from the murderer and the thief".

Golddigger Thu 21-Nov-13 11:18:00

I dont think that God's love is unconditional.
I need more thought on that though. May post more some other time.

Golddigger Thu 21-Nov-13 11:19:40

Dutchoma. But your kids are people in their own right. They are expected to make decisions for themselves. Else if one of someone's ancestors were Christian, then it would just go down the line.

capsium Thu 21-Nov-13 11:40:43

Goldigger The paradox is your Faith can save. It is not God's will that anyone should perish and whatever you pray for, that is His will, He will give to you.

However you are right God has given every individual Free Will, they do have to choose, so I think of this being a situation where your Faith can enable God to place people in to a position which is most conducive to them being Saved.

Woolmark Thu 21-Nov-13 16:44:42

I've been praying a lot these last few days and spoke to a female (feminist) Christian friend yesterday and my Priest today, both really helped with my questions. I had a talk with God last night and asked if he could give me some kind of sign as I'm worried by faith isn't strong enough... So today after speaking with the Priest I saw the biggest and brightest full rainbow in the sky, that was enough for me smile

Woolmark Thu 21-Nov-13 16:48:06

Just to add I do believe his love is unconditional and that people of other faiths are as much loved and their souls will also be saved. I wasn't sure if this belief was in keeping with the popular Christian 'us' and 'them' theory but my Priest says he feels the same as me, phew!

zulubump Thu 21-Nov-13 21:13:12

Glad you are feeling clearer on that Woolmark. Some days I feel sure of the unconditional love and other days I don't. I was posting on the prayer thread about how I've lost both my Nan's in the last few months. Neither of them were Christians and the idea that God wouldn't continue to love them both unconditionally was unbearable! It is hard to trust in God's goodness sometimes. But I don't want to be without God, so I have to keep trying!

Thehorridestmumintheworld Sat 23-Nov-13 19:30:56

I've just read love wins by rob bell it is a great book and looks at all this kind of thing. Here is the quote from the blurb "God offers us everlasting life by grace, freely through no merit on our part. Unless you do not respond in the right way. Then God will torture you forever. In hell. What???" I think that really shows something about how wrong these beliefs are. The book is also easy to read. This is a book for anyone, but especially if you come from quite an evangelical, bible based church background.

DameDeepRedBetty Sat 23-Nov-13 19:50:52

I am one of the Paul on the Road to Damascus Moment people. The evening that Jesus told me to stop worrying, everything would be fine, is that which defines my whole life from 'before' and 'after'. After this I decided to join in fully with the Church of England.

I remember when I was being prepared for confirmation by my priest, I asked about forgiveness and redemption. I asked if anyone could have a place in heaven, even if they'd committed the most dreadful crimes on Earth. I specifically mentioned the name Adolf Hitler.

The reply was that even Adolf, if he truly repented his sins and asked God's forgiveness, would be admitted to Heaven. Although my priest did add, with a smile, that he thought it was fairly unlikely that Hitler had truly repented and asked forgiveness, and in any case Heaven is a very big place and I was unlikely to run in to him should I get there...

On one level this shocked me, but on another, of course, if you follow God's promise logically, this is the case.

I do remember attending a very evangelical, fundamentalist service, held by a church very loosely affiliated with the Baptists. A dear friend who had struggled hard with drug addiction had found God with them and asked me, and some of his other old university friends who had watched him struggle and tried to help, to come to his baptism.

Afterwards there were tea and cakes, and one of the members of his new church informed me, completely as a matter of fact, that only 4000 souls would be saved in total, and only through their particular church. So a soul living before the time of Jesus, or living in a culture where Jesus had not yet reached, had zero chance.

In the circumstances I did the Smile and Nod thing - not much else one can do really ...

Dutchoma Sat 23-Nov-13 20:01:46

What a lot of nonsense people come out with. Where on earth did she get 4000 people from? Jesus said:"I am going to prepare a place for you." I translate that as a welcome, a 'put the kettle on' welcome, although I know that heaven will be a different place altogether and I can't imagine what it will be like. And this place in heaven does not depend on what I have done, but on what JESUS has done for me. Yes I need to accept that, otherwise it is totally without meaning, but I could never, ever say to anybody that they would not go to heaven or that God would condemn them.
I'm glad your friend came to faith and was baptised, you can only hope and pray that that church will not mess him up royally as he gets into it.
Smile and nod is about the only way to deal with it if you don't want to tell them 'bollocks'

BackOnlyBriefly Sat 23-Nov-13 20:25:47

Don't the Jehovah's Witnesses set it at 144,000? How does anyone here know that they are wrong and this church that claims it is 4000 is wrong? Surely they are basing it on the same sense of certainty that everyone else has from Pagan to Muslim to Baptist to Catholic.

capsium Sat 23-Nov-13 20:29:39

What do you believe Back?

BackOnlyBriefly Sat 23-Nov-13 21:23:27

I'm an atheist and am often criticised for suggesting it might be all untrue, so I find it interesting that one believer can be so sure that anothers beliefs are untrue.

What could that possibly be based on? If a person's faith comes from a feeling/certainty that God/Jesus puts in their heart why would they doubt the Muslim, Catholic or Jew that reported the same certainty?

capsium Sat 23-Nov-13 22:07:18

The thing about Faith, Back, for me anyway, is that the belief is a decision, you decide to pursue it, or not. You decide to believe, or not.

Italiangreyhound Sat 23-Nov-13 22:27:07

Hello * BackOnlyBriefly* grin

If I believe something and someone else believes something totally different about the same thing/person, can we both be right?

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