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The Unconditional Love of Christ—Is Just That!

I have used the phrase “unconditional love of Christ” very casually over the years as if I had mastered its concept, but in all honesty, the best I have ever been able to do is to catch a glimpse of its unfathomable meaning. Yet from just that glance, I know Jesus’ unconditional love for all mankind is the essence of His being. It is what caused Him many Christmases ago to leave the perfect community of heaven to be born into this imperfect world of pain and suffering to save us.

It was that same unconditional love for humanity that inspired Jesus’ earthly ministry to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, invite in the stranger, clothe the naked, care for the sick, and visit those held prisoner. Because the depth of His love for us is without measure, Jesus endured the agony of the cross that we might be set free from sin and death. Establishing His love as unconditional, Jesus served, suffered and died for even the many who He knew would reject Him—those who would choose the “wide gate” and “broad road” which leads to destruction.

In addition to demonstrating what unconditional love looked like while He walked this earth, Jesus gave us The Parable of the Good Samaritan. As a little boy, I remember acting out that parable in Miss Irene Crandell’s Sunday school class. Momma always said Miss Irene was family. Of course in the close-knit community I grew up in, that could have just meant because our families loved each other so much, we claimed kinship. I had lots of aunts and uncles in Haywood County, Tennessee with whom I didn’t share a common ancestry, at least a recent one. I say recent because Bro. Jerry Spencer, who at times during my childhood led our little church and community to revival, said, “If you go back far enough, we are all kin, related by our Grandfather Adam and Grandmother Eve, who were both sinners!” Regardless of family relations, Miss Irene taught me through the story of the Good Samaritan that I had a responsibility to love my neighbor—unconditionally.

Even today as I consider this parable, I am heartbroken it was the church folk, pure in their lineage and theology, that passed by the traveler who laid half-dead alongside the Jerusalem-Jericho Road. Still my (and Jesus’) hero in the parable is the Samaritan, from a despised, mixed race and heretical sect. It was the Samaritan who bandaged the traveler’s wounds after cleansing them with wine and soothing them with oil. It was the Samaritan who placed the traveler on his donkey and took him to an inn where he ministered to him throughout the night while making provision for his continued care. Another part of Jesus’ story that spoke to me even as a child was that the Samaritan didn’t have agendas for his act of mercy, even noble ones.

The Samaritan’s sacrificial love for the stranger he found wounded alongside the road was not meant to lay a foundation for an invitation to church on Sunday or a synagogue on Saturday. He didn’t show compassion while hoping for an opportunity to share a plan of salvation. He didn’t require even a simple “Thank you!” The love the Samaritan expressed to the stranger who lay dying alongside the Jerusalem-Jericho Road was truly unconditional, without expectation of anything in return. From this model of love, Jesus challenged—challenges—his followers, the church, to “go and do likewise.”

The early church found in the book of Acts responded to that challenge as they “sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.” In unity, this same fellowship of believers “broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.” When the world saw the followers of Jesus loving each other and their neighbor unconditionally, maybe even recklessly, an atmosphere was created in which the message of salvation germinated and by God’s sovereign grace His Spirit drew man to the Truth. And, the Truth is a Person, Jesus! And, the Lord added to the “church’s number daily those who were being saved.”

Every day, we as followers of Jesus have an opportunity to express our Lord’s unconditional love to those in need who we find alongside the road of life. Certainly, it is not within our ability to fix it all, but we have a Divine mandate—the privilege—to bring a little bit of God’s Kingdom into the lives of others until our King returns and makes all things right. I can’t think of a better time to start than Christmas!

Bill Cox

About the Author

Bill Cox is a self-described "less than everyday person" who is passionate about serving others. As El Ayudante, Inc.’s Director of Missions from 2000-2010, Bill provided the leadership to establish the ministry as one of the most influential NGOs serving Nicaragua. During those years, El Ayudante’s ministry was recognized by numerous local and national leaders including President Enrique Bolaños and Aminta Granera Sacasa, Director General of the National Police. In addition, El Ayudante's child protection center became recognized by the Ministry of the Family as a model for Nicaragua. As residents of Nicaragua for over three years, Bill, along with his wife, Teresia, represented the United States Embassy in Managua as consular wardens to the Department of León under two U.S. ambassadors. Chronicling his experiences while serving in Nicaragua, Bill has recently had published From Nicaragua: Principles for Life and Mission. (www.principlesfromnicaragua.com) Bill is a native of Brownsville, Tennessee where he served his community in numerous capacities including as an elected member of the Haywood County Commission. In 2002, the Cox family moved to neighboring Madison County to join like-minded families in planting Fellowship Bible Church of Jackson where Bill served as an elder. Today, Bill resides with his wife, Teresia, and their daughters, Rebekah and Jennie, in Cumming, Georgia close to their son, Walt, and daughter-in-law, Rebekah.