‘God’s love, with no strings attached.’ This was the refrain on this morning’s service on BBC local radio. But does God’s love really come ‘with no strings attached’?
God’s love is not some cynical attempt to manipulate us into giving him something he wants. So there are no ‘strings attached’ in that sense.
But God’s love does look for a response. As in any relationship, you hope that your acts of love and kindness to the other person will be reciprocated in some way. Otherwise, in what sense is there a relationship?
So God’s love does come with ‘strings attached’ in that sense. God shows his love for us, in order that we would respond – with gratitude, with obedience, and by showing love in return.
However, the way we show love to God in return is by showing love to other people. (It’s not as if God needs anything from us himself, is it?)
But then, should we show love to others ‘with strings attached’?
Not in a cynical, manipulative way, of course. We don’t help the destitute and helpless in order to get something for ourselves.
But as we show people God’s love, in our acts of kindness to other people, we hope that God’s love will elicit some kind of response in those people’s lives. We hope that people will know that God loves them, and that God’s love will be made complete in their lives.
So it’s not simply the case that God’s love comes ‘with no strings attached’. Love always has some end in mind. God shows his love for us, in order that we might know and love him, and in order that we in turn might show his love to others.