Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Conditions for Living

I’ll always remember the distinction one of my seminary profs, David Augsburger, made between conditions for loving and conditions for living. As followers of Jesus we are commanded to respect, love and care for everyone unconditionally, even our enemies, he said, but there may be many conditions for living that define our relationships with others, whether in a friendship, as parents, as spouses or in any other partnership.

I may need to set reasonable and clear limits, for example, as to the amount of time or money I have to give to others. Or to make clear that I am willing to tolerate certain kinds of behaviors but not others. Then if these conditions are not respected, the deal is off. It is their choice as to whether they will value our relationship enough to observe necessary agreements and agreed on boundaries.

As an example, if I am to engage in some business transaction, I can reasonably insist that each party operate according to our contract, and not to make up arbitrary rules as we go along. I also have a right to expect that others engage in appropriate and respectful behaviors in the course of doing business. If those things don’t happen, I must still demonstrate agape love toward them (sometimes tough love), but am not obligated to continue doing business with them.

Bottom line: While there are no conditions for unselfish loving, there may be many conditions for everyday living.
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