As you read this series about the important traits of a God Buddy relationship, are you now feeling ready to develop a deeper friendship with another guy?
Once you Find Commonality, Develop Trust, agree on Confidentiality, and demonstrate Vulnerability, Authenticity, and Transparency in your GB friendship you have the foundation. Then you Practice Good Listening and Showing Empathy which is then paired with the next set of traits: Non-judgmental Acceptance and Unconditional Love.
By definition, “unconditional” simply means without conditions, without rules, without expectations. Easy to do, right?
Consider this scenario
Over the last few months, you’ve had conversations with a friend who is having an affair and planning for his new life but has not told his wife of almost seven years.
Not only is this friend unaware of hurt awaiting his family, but he has repeatedly put you in a situation where he expects you to lie about his affair. You have pleaded with him to see the errors of his ways and explained that the likelihood that this new relationship based on lust and not love, will not last.
Your advice is rejected and your friend implies that he expects no judgment but only complete acceptance from you. In a carefully worded email back to you a few days later, he indicates he is stepping back from your friendship unless you approve of his new relationship and collaborate in his deception.
How do you apply unconditional love and non-judgemental acceptance to this situation? Not that easy after all, is it?!
Today, the idea of “unconditional love” has become the go-to defense for people who are challenged or criticized for their moral choices or life-style. We often hear, “God loves me as I am and despite what I do!” or “You don’t understand the whole situation” or “Who are you to judge me, anyway?” when someone reveals their failures to you or is caught in sin.
But what to do?
First, we should understand the foundation of unconditional love and non-judgemental acceptance: God’s love.
God Loves Unconditionally
God’s love for all His people is, in fact, unconditional. It’s not based on performance or merit. It is undeserved. God loves us so much that He sent His One and Only Son, Jesus Christ to die for us on the cross so that we might have everlasting life (John 3:16). He loves us in spite of our disobedience, our weakness, our ongoing sins, and our selfishness. Nothing we do can make God love us any more or love us any less. And that includes all of our past, present, and future our sins.
From the cross, Christ cried out, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing.” Now that is unconditional love!
While that truly is the Good News, we should also not equate unconditional love with unconditional acceptance.
While God’s love is unconditional, it’s also a demanding love. It requires our obedience to His commandments and that we strive to become more Christ-like. Pastor Tim Keller describes God’s unconditional but conditional love this way:
Yes, it’s unconditional but with conditions.
We need “Radical” Nonjudgement Acceptance
In her book, Radical Acceptance: The Secret to Happy, Lasting Love, author Andrea Miller suggests a new approach to acceptance that makes any relationship not only work but thrive.
She writes “Radical Acceptance means loving someone fully for who he or she really is — flaws, shortcomings, weaknesses, and all. It is loving without judgment.”
Miller continues: “To radically accept someone means: I know of your flaws, failures, weaknesses, and shortcomings. I still love you, here and now. I won’t resist or resent these differences and shortcomings. I will try to extend them tenderness and make peace with them.”
This means you must commit to loving your friend fully, ignoring the itch to fix, control, improve, or judge them.
But it doesn’t mean accepting their sins.
Two Ends of the Same Rope
God’s love for everyone is unconditional and available to anyone who decides to receive the gift of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. God offers this salvation without any prerequisites. It’s free and undeserved. It’s one end of the rope. All we have to do is accept the offer and couple it with repentance.
But wait, isn’t God’s love unconditional? That sounds like it has a condition.
Yes, experiencing God’s unconditional love is conditional in that we after we accept the gift of grace, we must repent of our sins in order to fully enjoy the relationship with the Father. Its both ends of the rope that binds us to Him.
So while there is a condition, God’s love really is unconditional… and that’s what makes it so amazing!
Putting Unconditional Love into Practice
Your God Buddy relationship must include these traits of nonjudgemental acceptance and unconditional love to help you both become better men.
The trick is to learn how to love your GB despite their flaws and mistakes while not judging them or their actions. Unconditional love loves at all times but does not need your judgment. Leave the judging up to God.
There are countless stories in the Gospels where Jesus confronts sinners. He shows great mercy in each and always includes the admonition to ‘sin no more’. God’s love requires us to face the difficult truth about ourselves and our sins. We all need God’s gift of grace and a lot of forgiveness.
The apostle Paul encourages us with these words:
“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”—-Ephesians 4:32
Acceptance and love also mean you respect and support each other, without any expectation of something in return. With these traits, your friendship is not shaken by the ups and downs of life. It’s not affected by failures and can weather the storms of sin.
At times though, your God Buddy relationship may also need some Confrontation, Confession, and Accountability, which is the subject of my next post.
What do nonjudgement acceptance and unconditional love look like to you? Feel free to comment below.