Unconditional Love

BY MATT KROELINGER

News shocked the College football world back in August, when Cordell Broadus, four-star recruit to the UCLA football team, abruptly quit. When asked why, UCLA head football coach Jim Mora said that he wanted to “pursue other passions in his life.” A lot of people don’t know this, but not only was Cordell Broadus one of the most highly sought after high school recruits to college football, but he is also the son of legendary rapper Snoop Dogg. Many people, including myself, were left scratching our heads trying to figure out exactly why one of the best football recruits would suddenly quit after he worked so hard to get where he was. Finally, on October 20, Cordell explained a little more in detail on his Instagram page:

“I played football for my father because I thought that was the only way he would love me & be a part of my life. It took me 12 years to realize he loves Cordell Broadus the person, not Cordell Broadus the football player. The best day of my life was when I heard those exact words…”

Cordell’s words pierced my heart, because like him, I spent many years trying to be and do something that just wasn’t me. As a Christian, I spent years working hard to try to earn God’s favor. I jumped on the treadmill and ran…ran until I became so tired and depressed that I had to get off (or let the treadmill throw me off). I couldn’t do it anymore. I soon came to believe that God didn’t love me because I couldn’t keep up with the endless demands of the do more, try harder Christianity that is so pervasive in our American Evangelical culture. Like Cordell, as much as it looked like I had it all together on the outside (minus the football abilities), on the inside I was walking in turmoil to the point where I abandoned Christianity altogether. It just wasn’t for me.

Over time, I realized that leaving Christianity didn’t help me either. The endless demands of my career, schooling, family life, managing friendships continued to take its toll on me. The competition in life to have the best car, house, boat leaves us endlessly struggling to keep up with our peers. Maybe that’s why America has some of the highest rates of mental health issues in the world. Ronald Kessler, a Harvard Researcher studying mental health, spoke to the Washington Post concerning his research in this area: “We lead the world in a lot of good things, but we’re also leaders in this one particular area we’d rather not be.” The endless demands and anxieties are constantly around us, whether we’re Christian or not.

But here is the good news, and something that took a long time for me to understand. We can get off the performance treadmill, that treadmill that endlessly ensures we are exhausted from the demands of our lives. You can quit the football team, because guess what? Your father loves you regardless of whether or not you are on the football team, or performing on the treadmill. Snoop Dogg loves his son Cordell the person, not the guy on the football field. Likewise, God doesn’t love us because we are on the treadmill constantly working for His love, He loves us simply for who He is, a gracious and merciful Father, longing to be with His children. Everything is already done. Jesus took our burdens, sorrows, lack or performance, sin, and nailed it to a cross. Martin Luther in his Heidelberg Disputation said – “The law says, do this, and it is never done. Grace says, believe in this, and everything is already done.” We have been set free in the finished work of Christ, and that is Good News!

“My deepest awareness of myself is that I am deeply loved by Jesus Christ, and I have done nothing to earn it or deserve it.” – Brennan Manning 

Matt is a proud husband and a father to two young boys and a teenage daughter. He works for the Department of Defense in a variety of Information Technology roles. In his free time, he loves studying Anglican and Lutheran theology, and has founded the website www.lutherananglican.com to showcase some of his favorite theologians of the past and present. He attends Church of the Messiah in Fredericksburg, Virginia.