I’d rather be hated than loved with conditions. I think most people would agree. At least when people hate you, they are being intellectually honest. I mean you know where they stand. But we’ve all shared a political view or a struggle and had people take a half step back, or worse, reveal they no longer want the best for us. When this happens I get a hollow feeling and I associate that hollow feeling with the person and their ideas. So that begs the question, do we actually love our friends without conditions? Are we the kind of friend we hope to have? Ultimately, loving people conditionally is an attempt to control them. We are wrongly thinking that if we can make people “pay” for their faults, or their opinions that don’t match ours, they will have a negative association with their faults or their supposedly wrong opinions. But that’s not the way it works.
When we attach conditions to our love, what we are really doing is attaching a negative association with us! People don’t sit around saying, man, if I just didn’t have this fault or this opinion, that person would love me. What they actually think is this: Wow, that person is a jerk, and all they represent, including their morality and political beliefs must make people jerks. I never want to be like that, so I will seek another community that accepts me as I am.
It’s interesting to me that Jesus never forced anybody to agree with Him. Instead, He has a quiet confidence. He was responsible to say the truth and to be Himself and he let others take responsibility for their lives. He did not use love like money, paying some and withholding from others in an effort to control them. He spoke the truth, He wasn’t offended when people didn’t agree, and He gave them their own will to do as they wish. But what’s more, He loved them regardless. He loved them whether they followed Him or tried to kill them. He even loved them while they were killing Him.
If you have an opinion, and somebody disagrees, let them. Just make it know what you think about the issue, listen to them closely, and then love and care about them regardless. If they keep trying to change your mind, gently explain to them that you simply don’t agree, but you don’t want it to interrupt your friendship. If people can only be friends with others who think the way they think, this is a weakness in character.
The Jesus kind of love, the love that speaks the truth and yet does not try to control, is supernatural. It is a very confident position and it comes from God. Will it always win? No, but the point is not to win, the point is to love, even to our deaths. So make this commitment, I will tell the truth to the best of my ability, I will not try to control, and there is nothing anybody can do to get me to stop loving them.
(this is a repost from the archives)