Listen up, crew. I want to talk about unconditional love for a second. Have you guys heard this new Katy Perry song? I am about to ruin it for you. Sorry about that. Here have a listen, I’ll wait.
I am not one of those hipsters who hates pop music, I promise. See here and here and here if you don’t believe me. I love Katy Perry. I went and saw Part of Me in theatres and even covered one of her songs with Pantherwagon. She is a good songwriter with a gift for writing a catchy melodies and uplifting lyrics. Unconditionally is another fine example. People are going to be belting this out in their cars for months. And on the surface what she sings about—offering to love someone unconditionally—seems beautiful, doesn’t it?
But from the first time I heard it, this song has been sticking in my craw. The problem is that it’s impossible to love someone like that. I know that if I try my hardest I will never be able to. For starters, I am way too selfish. And I get cranky sometimes and act like a jerk. I don’t always know what people need or what’s best for them. But mostly, my sinful heart just doesn’t know how to love others perfectly.
There are probably a few of you who are all, ”Oh come on, Sarah! It’s just a pop song, you are reading way too much into it.” It is just a pop song, you’re right. But it is also the heart cry of humans everywhere. We’re all looking for someone to know us and love us unconditionally. And we can’t find it underneath all the rah-rah, self esteem, be-your-own-best-friend pseudo wisdom our culture sells us. People hurt us and let us down and we start to think that unconditional love doesn’t exist.
And then we get frustrated and post all those articles on Facebook, ”21 Things Girls Need to Stop Doing Right Now!” or ”14 Reasons Why It’s Better to Have a Dog Than a Girlfriend!” or ”28 Ways You Know You’re Dating a Real Man!” or ”17 Things You Need to Stop Saying to Your Single Friends!” Because we think if we can commiserate with others about our frustration online it will make us feel better. We take millions of selfies and post them all over Instagram hoping that the right person will see it and like it. We sing along to pop songs that talk about Unconditional Love.
“Come just as you are to me
Don’t need apologies
Know that you are worthy
I’ll take your bad days with your good
Walk through the storm I would
I do it all because I love you
I will love you unconditionally
There is no fear now
Let go and just be free
I will love you unconditionally.”
It sounds good, doesn’t it? It’s what we all want to hear and believe is possible. And it’s so close to the truth. The problem is that it is empty to sing about unconditional love and having no fear without Jesus.
You know who really says, ”Come just as you are to me?” Jesus. You know what really drives out fear? His perfect love. You know who calls us to true freedom so that we can serve one another in love? You guessed it, Jesus. He never gets overwhelmed with our bad days or weeks or months. He is the one who walks through our storms and reaches his hand out to save us when we start to sink. Because he loves us. We love because he first loved us.
And the beautiful thing is, when you understand that and His love reaches down into the depths of your heart and changes you, you can love others better. Because it’s not on your own strength. You can extend grace to people, because it’s been given to you. And you can sing along to pop songs about unconditional love because you know that you’ve already found it.