One of the trends in retail business these days is rewards programs. From gas stations to coffee shops to restaurants and clothing stores, companies are offering rewards programs.

If you give them some information about yourself, like an email address or phone number, they will give you free stuff. For example, one of our family’s favorite restaurants offers you a free entrée after you have paid for 10 entrees.

It sounds wonderful, and generally rewards programs are for people who use services and don’t mind sharing their information with a company that they already like. But there is always a catch. By giving your information, not only do you give the company permission to send you all of their promotions, which can be annoying, the fine print tells you that you also give them permission to share your information with other companies which will market things to you.

If you think about it, this is really a way of expressing conditional love: “you scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours (wink-wink).” And when you think about it, that sort of conditional love permeates and effects all aspects of our world. “What’s in it for me?” is the summation of much of our culture.

As Christians, we have the opportunity to do something different. We can hold up a different alternative: unconditional love. We have the opportunity to love our “customers” (anyone we come in contact with, from strangers to friends to enemies) without a “rewards” program; a “no purchase necessary” kind of love.

We have the opportunity to free ourselves from the conditional love culture that is becoming so destructive, and channel the unconditional love that God has shown to us into unconditional, “no strings attached” love. That kind of love is freeing to us to offer, and it is freeing to others to receive, and it is the love that God has had for humanity and for us, all our life long.

I hope that worship today is a real experience of the Holy Spirit for you.

Blessings, Sonny