Jesus in his incarnation and death on the cross for us his enemies opened the issue of unconditional love. How do we handle it? Let’s start with unconditional love and children – our own children.
I picked up a phrase when my children were young that I often shared with them.
I would regularly ask them: “If you were really really really bad, would Daddy still love you?” Initially they would say no, but I would help them see more. Finally, they could happily though sometimes uncomfortably say yes.
It is incumbent on us to love our children completely whatever happens. They are made in the image of God and given as a gift to us. God makes no mistakes in sending them to us.
It is also our job to train children. See Proverbs 22:6.
Start children off on the way they should go,
and even when they are old they will not turn from it.
In our initial church work in China, we often fell upon mothers who said their children are annoying in a very negative and hopeless manner. This puzzled me.
Unconditional Love and Children is Our Big Big Task
God gave you just the child you need. Then, you trained the child or failed to. Then, this child is annoying, and you blame the child. So wrong! Children can be annoying and our job is to train them and love them, so they learn to not be annoying.
If our child is annoying, then that is our mistake, and we should carry that attitude. We made the error.
Now, if our method to train our child is to always lecture them, then we are being annoying, and they will learn much more from what we do than what we say.
If we do not like their personality and try to change it, we are even more wrong, God gave them a personality, and you are rejecting their God given strengths and weaknesses.
Keep in mind that children have no choice in being born into your family. They have no responsibility to love you. If you love them, and help them become who God made them to be, they will love you.
We can usually not train people in church work like we would a child, but each of us is a child of God all our lives so should keep growing. Our friends will vary, and some will be closer and some more distant based on interests and even personality and background. How we can express unconditional love in these cases is different than with a child we raise ourselves. We still owe the world much, but not as much. We need to give all to our spouse to save our children. See also Raising Children with and for God. Also see Raising Kids With All We Have.