Reader’s Choice: Brett Gaudin: I like this because it reminds me that what we refer to as God’s “unconditional love” is not without conditions. Those conditions are the law and it demanded of Christ his very life. And yet it was to his joy to give us his inheritance and take us as his. “What a love, what a cost, we stand forgiven at the cross” … perfectly ruled and perfectly free.
843 Acres: Reader’s Choice: Unconditional Love vs. Contraconditional Love
Originally published on September 18, 2013.
Highlighted: 2 Cor 7:9-10
Love: In 1961, psychologist Carl Rogers popularized the term, “unconditional positive regard,” suggesting that we mustlove our children for who they are, not for what they do . In 2004, TV personality Phil McGraw argued that what children want or need should be offered contingently until they “behave according to your wishes” . Supernanny agreed: “The best rewards are attention, praise and love,” and these should be held back “when the child behaves badly until she says she is sorry” .
Grief: In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul called out their conflicts, divisions and immorality. He did not write these things to make them feel “ashamed,” but to “admonish” them as “beloved children” . When he heard that his letter grieved them, he wrote again, saying, “I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death” . Paul did not have an “unconditional positive regard” for the Corinthians nor did he withhold his love from them until they behaved according to his wishes; his love was neither permissive nor manipulative.
Contraconditional: God’s love is something more than unconditional. As David Powlison has written, “God does not accept me just as I am; He loves me despite how I am; He loves me just as Jesus is; He loves me enough to devote my life to renewing me in the image of Jesus. This love is much, much, much better than unconditional! Perhaps we could call it ‘contraconditional’ love … Contrary to my due, He loves me. And now I can begin to change, not to earn love but because of love … You need something better than unconditional love. You need the crown of thorns … You need the promise to the repentant thief. You need to know, ‘I will never leave you or forsake you.’ You need forgiveness. You need … a Father, a Savior. You need to become like the one who loves you. You need the better love of Jesus” .
Prayer: Lord, What wondrous love is this! Your love for us is neither permissive nor manipulative. How desperately we need your love so that we can live as Paul, loving others as you do. Give us the crown of thorns and the better love of Jesus. Amen.
About Brett: Brett is from Indiana and has lived in NYC going-on nine years. Brett works for Tegu, a socially-minded toy company, and is part of Redeemer’s Center for Faith & Work Gotham Fellowship Class of 2013.
M’Cheyne Reading as Scheduled:
 Carl Rogers. On Becoming a Person. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1961. |  Carl Rogers. On Becoming a Person. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1961. |  Carl Rogers. On Becoming a Person. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1961. |  1 Corinthians 4:14 ESV |  2 Corinthians 7:9-10 ESV |  David Powlison. God’s Love: Better than Unconditional. 2001.