Love is Unconditional, Relationship is Not

A number of months ago, I had the opportunity to hear Paul Young speak to a group of abuse survivors.  His presentation hit me hard as it was so brutally raw and honest as he shared about his deep failures in life and how he had tried for so long to mask these failures with a facade that is all too familiar in the Christian world.  His understanding of the Gospel is so refreshing and so liberating.  During the past months, I have been blessed to develop a friendship with Paul who has become a real source of personal encouragement to me...and doesn't even care that I've not yet read his books (The Shack and Cross Roads), thought they are next on my list..I promise, Paul!

Recently, I asked Paul if he would contribute a guest post to the GRACE blog. Without a hesitation, he agreed.  Paul Young has experienced the horrors of abuse and has travelled a very long and difficult road of healing that has taken him to hell and back.  This post is just a snapshot of something he learned during that journey.  I pray that you will find Paul's words helpful as you press forward on your own journey. - Boz Tchividjian
“What you do in secret, will be shouted from the rooftops.” – that is a promise

“Every person will be judged (judgment is a good thing) according to their works.”

Your salvation is an expression of unconditional love – “for by grace you have all been saved, through faith that is not of yourselves (Jesus’ faith), it is the free gift of God…there is nothing to boast about here. So, now work out the reality of that salvation with fear and trembling (your choices and participation truly and incredibly matter), for it is God who is working inside of you to will and to do the Good.”

Think about this: my love for our six children is unconditional. There is nothing that my children can do that would ever make me withdraw my love from them. This kind of self-giving, other-centered love does not originate with us as human beings, it originates in the very nature of character of God; God ‘is’ this love (Agape). Because of this, the serial murder/rapist Ted Bundy’s mother would pronounce in an interview, “You can say whatever you want to about Ted, but he is still my son, and I love him.”

My love for our children is absolutely unconditional and there is nothing they can do about that.  However, my relationship to each child is and must be conditional, if for no other reason than they exist distinct from me as a human being and I relate to them inside of the uniqueness of their being. My love for each child is of the same essence and quality, but my relationship with each child is utterly unique, conditioned in part to who they are and the choices they make.

This is profoundly important. If I have a son or daughter who makes the choice to abuse their child (our grandchild), my love for them will remain unwavering but I will do everything in my power to stop them. Why? Because I have a ‘high’ view of their humanity. The deepest Truth about our ‘being’ is not that we are depraved or fallen or the scum and dregs of the universe, but that we are a ‘very good’ creation crafted in the very image and nature of God. The incarnation of Jesus is proof that God has a high view of humanity and is willing to fully join with us. The Cross is proof that the immense power of human beings to do death and damage will be respected by God and God will submit to it as the path of destroying what is harming and disintegrating the one(s) He loves. There is One in this cosmos who has never been an abuser and any imagination of God’s character that paints His face as such, is utterly false. As an expression of my love for my children I will stand against any of the dark choices that they make and call to them with the voice of the Truth, so that healing will integrate the ‘Truth of their being’ with the ‘way of their being.’

We must expose all the corruption, damage and death inside our own hearts and inside of our communities of faith, if for no other reason than because we see humanity with and through the eyes of God, and God has the highest respect for the human creation. We must learn to bring our darkness, individually and corporately, into the light because we too have astonishing regard and respect, calling forth the human creation out of death and into their proper habitat; freedom and life. It is time for us all to recognize our addiction to lies, to darkness, to secrets and admit that in the deepest places of our hearts and souls, we have a longing for light and authenticity, which is our natural habitat. Yes, this has powerfully painful and far-reaching implications, but neither we, nor our children, can build houses on shifting sand, half-truths, secrets and lies. We must find a rock and re-build on authentic Truth-telling regardless the consequences.  Inside the Truth and the Light will we find the Way that brings hope to us all.

William P. Young (AKA Paul Young) is a Canadian born author widely known for his bestselling book, The Shack.  In 2012, Paul released his second book, Cross Roads.