Many religiously minded people apparently think unconditional love (love that is free of conditions and reciprocal obligations) is not worth having. A culture which idolizes self reliance and independence compels many in this group to say:” If I didn’t earn it or pay for it, I don’t want it”. The man, however, who wasn’t “raised in the Church” or been a “solid Christian” for decades is not generally so bold as to think that an earned Love will be adequate for them.
The prevailing mindset of generations of Americans runs exactly counter to the notion that something free is really free and simultaneously valuable. The expression ‘There is no free lunch” conveys the general idea. It is obvious that many of us view with contempt anyone who relies too heavily on the support of others. Seekers of physical help are often seen as weak, untrustworthy, and manipulative, cunning maybe but not too smart really.
The “unchurched” among us may see God’s Love a bit differently. I have heard before from preachers that the strongest Christians are sometimes the ones who experienced the most sin in their lives, and therefore can appreciate the magnitude of God’s Love best. Those raised in the church may well think that they are loved because they have been God’s own practically from birth, whereas the man who sinned woefully, knows from whence he has come with God’s help. The heavy “sinner” labors under no illusion about the kind of Love God must give in order to meet his need. Unconditional Love is the only answer for that kind of wounded heart.
To a mind conditioned to the overriding virtues of self-reliance and independence nothing which I didn’t earn or pay for can be valued. Self reliance and independence from the support of others are by definition a rejection of the merit of assistance which has not been earned and thus a repudiation of the concept of grace and mercy. Our very culture predisposes us to question the basis of God's work in Christ.