I don’t know if you have ever noticed this or not. Maybe it’s because I grew up in an environment where this was the case, but so often we make life about living by a set of rules or regulations.
Granted, some of these are not bad things, but are for our safety, such as the speed limit on a road or not to drive when the stoplight is red. Those types of rules are meant to help us. However, there are other times when the rules and regulations of life are given by people to turn us into what they want us to be. I remember being in high school and the school I went to had a dress code, which included what your hair could and could not look like. I was never very good at abiding by this, but it was because they wanted us to look a certain way.
The problem is that so often we use this concept of giving people a list of rules to change them in our relationships. We start dating a person and then we start slowly giving subtle hints at what we want them to do to become who we want them to be. Like in dating relationships, a girl watches the Notebook and thus wants every future boy to look, act, and sound like Ryan Gosling. So, she’ll subtly say “I sure do like The Notebook,” but what she is really saying is that we need to watch this movie together so you will see what you are not and what I think you need to become to be a good boyfriend to me. Guys will do the same thing by pointing out how a certain girl looks. What we are doing is making our love conditional to you becoming what you think someone needs to be. If you change into what I want you to, I’ll love you and we’ll be fine, but if not, this won’t work. I think so often we don’t even realize we do this, but our love and acceptance of a person is based off of them doing what we want them to do.
We often take the same stance with God. We read the 10 Commandments and think God is this hateful person who just sits in the sky waiting on us to screw up so He doesn’t have to love us anymore. We impose a view of God’s love for us on Him based off of how we see love played out on a daily basis. We think that God is like us and has the mindset, “I will love and accept you if you will first abide by the 10 Commandments, or get your act together, and become what you are not.” The problem is that no one could ever live up to the 10 Commandments. That’s why in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said this,
“Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose.” – Matthew 5:17
Because no one could live up to the 10 Commandments to be made righteous, God came to fulfill it. Meaning He is the only one who could be perfect, so He came and died to accomplish for us what trying to live by a set of rules could never do, attain His love and make us right with Him.
The reality is that God is nothing like people. We think God’s love for us is conditional the same way our love for others is conditional. God came and fulfilled the law to show us His love is unconditional; it doesn’t matter where we are or what we’ve done, anything of our past, He loves us and wants the best for us. God doesn’t want anything from you, but He wants the best FOR you.
We cannot love others well until we properly view how God loves us. We need to flip the switch and stop imposing our views onto God based off of how others love us and start imposing how God loves us onto how we love others.