To be loved unconditionally is an incredible blessing. Judaism, Christianity and Islam all emphasise how much God loves humanity, as parents love their children.
Presented 1 May 2022. Posted 2 May 2022.
Yesterday I gave my 67th "Thought for the Week" on BBC Radio Manchester.
During the week while thinking of what to write, bereavement was in my mind, since my elder daughter's mother-in-law died recently. I decided to share something a bereaved client told me several decades ago, and something which struck me very strongly when I read the Old Testament in full.
I am acutely conscious of how much my parents doted on me, and what a blessing that was. I often mention it when speaking to audiences of schoolchildren.
Being loved is incredibly important for a child's development. Sadly some parents don't love their children, and that causes the children many problems in later life since they grow up as flawed human beings.
Since the pandemic started, I have pre-recorded the "Thought for the Week" and sent it to the BBC in advance. BBC Radio Manchester has now reopened to visiting contributors, but my diary had me in London today, so it was another remote appearance.
Accordingly you can hear my recording below.
Muslims and Jews visit bereaved people as quickly as possible.
You can tell the house of a bereaved family from the outside. You will see lots of visitors’ cars. People going in and out all the time.
Nearly forty years ago, one of my clients, a Christian, lost his father. Even though I didn’t know the client well personally, I went to visit him at his office. My client was just under 50 at the time. As he talked about his late father, he said something to me that I have never forgotten.
“Amin, the only people in your entire life who love you unconditionally are your parents. Everyone else in your life who loves you, does so because you love them back. But your parents love you without wanting anything.”
Most people have heard the words of Jesus in the Gospel of John, when He says “God is love.” What is often forgotten is that this teaching derives from the Old Testament.
Over 50 years ago, when I read the Bible from cover to cover, one thing surprised me more than anyone else. Like many others, I had picked up the idea that the God of the Old Testament was always angry. Always looking for reasons to smite people.
What I found in the words of the Old Testament was a very different God. A God who had endless love for His people, the Children of Israel, as well as love for the rest of mankind. Endless love. No matter how often the Children of Israel disobeyed Him and went astray.
Just like the way parents love their children.
I occasionally come across arguments that for God to take a special interest in any one individual, or even in humanity as a whole, is inconsistent with the vast scale of the universe, with billions of stars and potentially many other sentient species.
Such arguments forget that God's capacity is infinite. See my page "God's infinite love."