“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” — 1 John 4:18
The life of the apostle Paul is a beautiful image of a holy God showing unbelievable grace to an unlikely character. At first glance, you might think, “What does grace have to do with unconditional love?” Grace is the manifestation of the unqualified affections from God to us. Paul is an enigma at best — persecuting the Church, killing Christians, jailing others — but also a prime candidate for this type of love.
I am often amazed at how Jesus goes out of the way to engage the unlikable, the unlovable and the outcast. He has an uncanny knack for teaching us what real love looks like through these encounters and opportunities. Jesus meets Paul on the road to Damascus, gets his attention, blinds him, sends him help from a faithful believer and then calls Paul into service.
Did I mention that this guy was killing Christians and pursuing the believers like a bounty hunter just days and weeks before?
But this is what love looks like without conditions — there is no set criterion, just timing and calling. In Acts 9:15, Jesus refers to Paul as His chosen instrument, the one who would carry His name to the Gentiles, kings and the sons of Israel. There are no strings attached, just a redirected purpose, finding itself through this thing called love.
What strings might you need to detach in order to love in the same way our Savior loves?