The Unconditional Love of Many in the Church Seems Very Conditional — A Quote by Donald Miller in “Blue Like Jazz”

“The real issue in the Christian community was that it [love] was conditional. You were loved, but if you had questions… you were not so loved. You were loved in word, but there was, without question, a social commodity that was being withheld from you until you shaped up… There was love in Christian community, but it was conditional love. Sure, we called it unconditional, but it wasn’t… And I hated this. I hated it with a passion. Everything in my soul told me it was wrong… I was tired of biblical ethic used as a tool with which to judge people rather than heal them… On the other hand, I felt by loving liberal people, I mean by really endorsing their existence, I was betraying the truth of God because I was encouraging them in their lives apart from God.”

“What metaphors do we use when we think of relationships? We value people… We invest in people… Relationships could be bankrupt… People are priceless. All economic metaphor. I was taken aback. And that’s when it hit me like so much epiphany getting dislodged from my arteries. The problem with Christian culture is we think of love as a commodity. We use it like money… This was the thing that had smelled so rotten all those years. I used love like money. The church used love like money. With love, we withheld affirmation from the people who did not agree with us, but we lavishly financed the ones who did.”

“I became convicted about these things, so much so that I had some trouble getting to sleep. It was clear that I was to love everybody, be delighted at everybody’s existence, and I had fallen miles short of God’s aim… I repented. I told God I was sorry. I replaced economic metaphor, in my mind, with something different, a free gift metaphor or a magnet metaphor. That is, instead of withholding love to change somebody, I poured it on, lavishly. I hoped that love would work like a magnet, pulling people from the mire and toward healing. I knew this was the way God loved me. God had never withheld love to teach me a lesson…”

“If a person senses that you do not like them… then your religion and your political ideas will all seem wrong to them. If they sense that you like them, then they are open to what you have to say.”
“After I repented, things were different… the difference was with me. I was happy. Before, I had all this negative tension flipping around in my gut, all this judgmentalism and pride and loathing of other people. I hated it, and now I was set free. I was free to love. I didn’t have to discipline anybody, and I didn’t have to judge anybody, I could treat everybody as though they were my best friend, as though they were rock stars or famous poets, as though they were amazing.”

— Donald Miller, “Blue Like Jazz”, pp 214-220

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