Unconditional love is beautiful.
It’s the hallmark of some of the greatest stories ever told—from on-screen romances to moving accounts of those who sacrifice their own comfort for the sake of another. Such selfless, whole-hearted love draws people in and offers safety, support, and belonging. It shapes the lives of those who love and those who are loved.
It can also be really tough to give.
Unconditional love often means serving someone who may be undeserving or unable to reciprocate. It can be lonely and depleting, leaving us wondering if our efforts have been in vain.
Jesus’ ministry on earth showed both the beauty and the cost of such love. He wept in solidarity with Mary and Martha at Lazarus’ death even though he knew he would raise him back to life. He exemplified being a shepherd willing to leave the flock of 99 to find the one lost sheep. And, as he neared his death, Jesus asked his loving Father to forgive those who crucified him.
This is the message of “Unconditional,” the latest ad from He Gets Us. Rich with striking images—a mother’s pregnancy-scarred stomach, a father kissing his daughter’s cheek as he transfers her from the car to her wheelchair—the ad states that “Jesus loved without limits, too.”
He Gets Us chose to emphasize the parent-child relationship because of the selfless and sacrificial love that parents often show their children. The campaign creators wanted to express Jesus’ love in the ad by depicting parents who sacrifice tirelessly and love unconditionally. Recognizing that family can mean different things to different people, the He Gets Us team hopes the parent-child emphasis will invite people into recognizing and extending unconditional love.
What might it look like to inspire churches to declare the limitless love of Jesus in their communities? Perhaps it begins with an acknowledgement of the challenges of unconditional love and an encouragement that Jesus understands. From there, church leaders can consider how to activate their congregations in showing Jesus’ love to those yet to know him.
The Greatest of These Is Love
As the He Gets Us team began to cast the vision for the “Unconditional” ad, they started with the knowledge that everyone understands love on some level. At the same time, they realized, everyone misunderstands it in important ways, too. Jesus corrects and completes our human understanding of love. He acted on behalf of others without condition or expectation, and then, Jesus instructed his disciples to love one another just as he had loved them.
Churches can embrace this same calling by finding ways to focus on the needs of others, regardless of the response they receive. Some examples include serving without a hidden agenda, helping the poor and the sick, providing counseling services, and engaging in community outreach. Or churches can start small and simple: pray for people and build trust in one-on-one relationships, encouraging others to do the same.
Embracing the concept of limitless love can take pastors, congregants, and whole communities on a journey toward healing and wholeness. And when sacrifice and service feel impossibly hard, God’s people can look to one another for encouragement, experiencing the very support they need the strength to extend.
As they shepherd their people to this end, pastors can find resonance in the way Jesus poured out love over and over again. When the phone rings in the middle of the night or tragedy strikes a congregant on a Saturday morning, Jesus gets what it’s like to choose the sacrificial, selfless path.
Understanding and communicating God's unconditional love is the foundation for whole-life transformation—from pastors to parishioners to those yet to know the person of Jesus.
Just As I Have Loved You
The “Unconditional” ad is just the beginning. Churches can keep the momentum going by accessing the He Gets Us Uncommon Love Kit. Designed to help Christians demonstrate love and kindness, the kit is filled with helpful resources for engaging with friends, strangers, and, of course, family.
Love is complicated. Jesus gets that. And his example can show us how to extend limitless love even when it’s hard. If the church can learn from Jesus’ example, the He Gets Us team says, then it can help transform communities for the better.