God’s love has never been or ever will be conditional. He loved you at your worst, and most Christian churches would agree with that initially. They believe you are saved by grace through faith, no matter your history, but that is often where grace stops and religion starts. And religion always puts the emphasis on the external.
Once you’re saved, religion says you must live holy, and the evidence of your holiness will likely be judged by the standards of your church: Do you dress the right way, do you say the right things, are you leading people to Jesus, and most important, are you tithing—just to give a few examples.
That is not how God sees us. God looks on the heart. First Samuel 16:6-7 says this:
And it came to pass, when they were come, that he looked on Eliab, and said, Surely the Lord’s anointed is before him. But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.
Samuel was going to choose Eliab to replace King Saul because of the outward appearances. But God was not looking on the outside. The church today is judging believers in the same way. You might carouse in secret on Saturday night, but as long as you come to church the next morning well kempt and well dressed with a check in your hand, you’re accepted because you have the appearance of holiness.
Under the New Covenant, God is still concerned about your actions and behavior. It’s not okay to lie, to steal, to commit adultery, or any other sin. However, He knows that those are nothing more than the byproduct of a relationship—or the lack of one—with Him. So, He is focused on your heart.
As long as you believe God is judging you according to your performance, you will never fully receive His love. Love is a decision, and God decided to love you even though you didn’t deserve it. There is nothing you can do to earn it or deserve it, so just receive it as a free gift.
When you understand how much God loves you, it becomes easy to love others. And when you love others as He has loved you, your behavior will change toward them. If you loved your mate the way that Christ loves you—unconditionally—you would never commit adultery. If you loved your neighbor as Christ loves you, you would never steal from them or bear false witness against them.
How does the world know that we are disciples of Christ? John 13:35 says, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”