“We often confuse unconditional love with unconditional approval. God loves us without conditions but does not approve of every human behavior. God doesn’t approve of betrayal, violence, hatred, suspicion, and all other expressions of evil, because they all contradict the love God wants to instill in the human heart. Evil is the absence of God’s love. Evil does not belong to God.
God’s unconditional love means that God continues to love us even when we say or think evil things. God continues to wait for us as a loving parent waits for the return of a lost child. It is important for us to hold on to the truth that God never gives up loving us even when God is saddened by what we do. That truth will help us to return to God’s ever-present love.”
Nouwen identifies what is perhaps the biggest point of confusion about God’s love; unconditional love and unconditional approval. Unconditional love is the hardest kind, because it begs us to offer a love that doesn’t always feel good. This love says hard things when they are called for. This love sees past relational comfort to the well being of the whole person. And what is more, this love demands the greatest measure of forgiveness between the beloved, because to go the distance with proper love is the most expensive option for all. But the rewards are great. From God’s perspective, we experience love to an unimaginable degree in the cross, and as Nouwen says above, this love will help us return to God. Form our perspective, when we follow God’s pattern, we extend this same love and participate in returning others to God. We can be sure that this is the economy of the new creation we hope in; an inheritance that won’t spoil or fade.