Edward F. Lundwall, Jr.
Unconditional love has been cited as the greatest kind of love. It has been implied that this is the nature of God's love, expressed when Christ died for the sins of the world. This love is alleged to be unconditional since sinners do nothing to merit or win God's love.
But is this unconditional love characteristic of God's plan? Unconditional love is one way. God in Christ offers us everything and we have nothing to offer. There is no reciprocity of love. Surely, this is not the highest expression of love.
When Israel rejected Jesus as Messiah, God's love for Israel did not disappear. Rather, the love relationship like that of husband and wife never became established. Jesus lamented this. He said: "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing." (Matthew 23:37)
The highest expression of love is reciprocal. It is made evident in trusting relationships. The relationship must go beyond initial flirting. It must move to commitment and fidelity based on mutual love. God's love is relational. God's love can be trusted because God is worthy of our trust. One learns this through experience in the relationship.
In Christ, God offer forgiveness, a new nature, and eternal eternal life with unimaginable blessed conditions (Ephesians 2:7). As with human love, this is not fully realized until faith establishes a family relationship. We are to receive Christ as our Savior and Spouse. (Ephesians 5:22–32)