Lenten Devotional: Thoughts on Unconditional Love by Kat Ross

Over this Lenten season, the Spiritual Formation team at First Presbyterian Church in Bend put a call out to all to submit writings for a Lenten Devotional. I will do my best to post those here daily. You can also go to our website and access all of the devotions on a pdf file.

Here is the next submission:

Thoughts On Unconditional Love

There are all kinds of unconditional love. The kind that a parent feels for their child, and a child gives to their parents. The kind a pet gives to their owner and the owner gives to their pet and so on. But what is the difference between those kinds of unconditional love and the unconditional love that Jesus displayed during His journey to the cross? The difference is that those other kinds are easy to give. We wouldn’t think of ceasing our love just because a child or pet acted out or was an on-going challenge. The difference is in the difficulty.

Imagine Jesus’ journey, the worst nightmare imaginable. What did He witness? Sneering faces. Jeers shouted. Stones thrown. Jokes made. Laughing. Spitting. Whipping. Insults. Curses. Screaming. Humiliation. He was experiencing the absolute ugliest side of people. These actions were done to strip Him of His dignity. The carrying of His own cross that He would die on, a punishment designed by His fellow man, whom He professed to love. He was sentenced to a criminal’s death, for the “crime” of trying to spread teachings that would free the hearts and souls of the down-trodden, for everyone alike.

Imagine the extreme physical pain He must have experienced, and the pain inside must have been great also. For in His heart He knew the truth. He was witnessing His Father’s beloved children, His brothers and sisters, harming only themselves. For His thought and prayer at the very end was not for Himself but for us, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” He asked forgiveness for us because He continued to love us, even then, after all He’d been through. How is that possible? How?! He had no conditions on His love for us, the very ones responsible for all this ugliness.

We humans have such ugliness inside. Look at our history books. Look at our newspapers. We wrong one another everyday. In each of our lives someone has at sometime been ugly toward us or us toward them. Sometimes it seems like everything happening around us is turning ugly. It makes you feel ugly and think ugly. “Why does he treat me that way? I’ll show him. She doesn’t deserve that promotion. What’s happening at work is so unfair! Why do bad things happen to good people? Just look at the greed in this world, it’s disgusting. How is this country ever going to get back to being healthy and happy again? Especially with the economy in the toilet.” These are all ugly thoughts that rob us of our smiles, our joy. The ugly thoughts suck us into darkness and negativity. Sometimes we turn into walking, talking resentment. It’s like a bad infection and it’s hard to overcome. And it’s contagious too. Leading us to lash out at one another.

When you feel ugliness get into your heart, remember Jesus’ example of unconditional love:
Even when He was surrounded by ugliness, He let it go.
He did not hold it in His heart.
He forgave and chose love even when it was difficult.
We can choose love too.
We have free will.
Choose peace of mind.
Choose peace in your heart.
Remember God’s plan will be revealed in time.
Put your energy into pro-active actions only.
Take back your happiness!
Practicing unconditional love is beautiful!

Let’s not get trapped in trying to win at all costs or prove that we’re right, because we can be
the ones who lose the blessing of peace. Life is precious; let’s spend our time wisely. If you are experiencing trouble, stop grasping it tightly in your mind and replaying it over and over in your heart. You hurt only yourself. Give your troubles to the Lord, in His capable hands they belong!

–Kat Ross


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