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By Pastor Erik Iverson
Faith Lutheran in Condon & Holy Cross Lutheran in Seeley Lake 

The unconditional invitation

 

October 31, 2019



What is the difference between something being conditional versus unconditional? How much can such a difference actually affect our lives? One example from modern history is WWII Japan. While the ferocity of Japanese soldiers had been seen from the outset, this became markedly more so as American forces reached homeland soil; specifically Okinawa and Iwo Jima. The bloodiness of battles there were such that even today terms kamikaze, seppuku, and banzai are familiar. Yet it can be argued that it was this very same fantacism that, in part, shaped the world changing events in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

While there are many factors in what happened after this, one predominates. Japan was the last major culture to revere the leader as a literal god-man, (Arahitogami). This permeated the entire society, but especially the military, and many held to the ancient code of bushido, wherein death was preferred before dishonor. It was also recognized by nearly all that ultimate defeat was inevitable. Thus was a strategy also born along with this veneration, which was to exact such a horrific toll on the enemy that a conditional cessation of hostilities would necessarily be brought about.

Meanwhile, America had demanded an unconditional surrender and was preparing for invasion. But we now also possessed a war-ending weapon, the atomic bomb. At the same time many moral questions had arisen over its use...how, where, and even “should.” But based upon the two aforementioned battles especially, the estimated cost of American lives in such an invasion was staggering and the decision was made. History will record that the difference between conditional and unconditional here affected untold lives.

When it comes to our view of God, many people make it an “if-then” situation: “If God truly is love, then ...”, “If God is really there, then He would...” In fact, many often do the same to the detriment of their relationships: “If you really loved me, then...” In other words, human beings are often largely conditional in many aspects of life.

When it comes to Christ Jesus and His love for us, it is wholly un-conditional. We often hear of one particular word used to describe this: agape. While there several different words in Greek for different types of love, this one is unique in defining a type of love that is not only unconditional, it is absolutely selfless, even toward those who reject and hate in return...and to the extent that it means sacrificing all.

But there is something else and it is found in what Jesus didn’t say. Even though He knew beforehand that some would receive Him and His gift of forgiveness and salvation, that others would not, and that still others would actively persecute Him, no-where will you find Him saying anything like: “I will come to them and give My life for them, if...”

Even now, in a world full of conditionals, He likewise makes no demands of us when it comes to believing in Him, no matter where we are in our lives. He simply invites....unconditionally.

 

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