How timely that this week is about love. As the world shouts in rage over what is sin and what is not, over who gets to judge and who does not, over whether it is "loving like Jesus" to speak hard against sin, we have lit the candle of love.
What is love?
John 14:15 says "If you love me, you will keep my commandments."
A loving God has given the Law. Knowing that we will never be able to fully meet the requirements of the law, the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. He lived the sinless life that we would never live and died in our place so that we could have eternal life.
Yet we are not without rules, without guidelines to a holy and God-pleasing life.
Our perfect Father has done what any good parent will do, given us boundaries.
For our sake, when we want something that is not in our best interest, He tells us "no."
We don't like that word. No child likes it, but it is so vital to growth and maturity to learn boundaries and live freely within them.
Love is patient and kind.
Love does not envy or boast.
Love is not arrogant or rude.
Love does not insist on its own way.
Love is not irritable or resentful.
Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing.
Love rejoices with the TRUTH. (empasis mine)
Love bears all things.
Love believes all things.
Love hopes all things.
Love endures all things.
Love never ends.
Look at this list taken from 1 Corinthians 13. Look closely. What is missing?
Weakness. Love is not weak, love is strong. Love is willing to do what is best for the beloved, regardless of how the beloved receives it.
Love grabs the wayward child and yanks them to safety when they run into the street.
Love spanks the hand of a toddler who reaches for a hot stove in order to protect them from injury.
Love looks your brother or sister in the eye when asked the hard questions and tells the truth of God's word, knowing it may end a relationship or cause offense.
Because love is not selfish or pandering.
Love hopes all things...love hopes for the eyes of the sinner to be opened by the power of the Holy Spirit and prays for that very thing, but it speaks the truth. Love remembers when we were in chains and how the Lord set us free. Love determines to endure all things in order to bring life and hope to those who walk in darkness.
Love realizes it may be ridiculed or persecuted for being narrow and old-fashioned, but it is not irritable or resentful when the ridicule and persecution strike. Love bears it and believes the Word of God...that HE is working out all things for good because we are called according to HIS purpose, not our own. Love realizes that it is not about us, it is about Jesus and His plan for our lives. We are His ambassadors, though faulty we may be, because God uses cracked pots.
Love comes from God. God IS love. Love is not weak, GOD is not weak. God is strong and He will give us His strength but we must continue in love. We must obey His commandments and, like John the Baptist, in Luke 3...speak the Truth, the whole Truth, always with the goal of leading the hearer to a saving knowledge and relationship with Jesus. Always with the goal of holding their hand and escorting them to the foot of the Throne of God.
Christmas is the perfect time to begin, if we haven't already. We are His people, the sheep of HIS pasture. We are here to enjoy God and glorify Him. We are bought with a price, a great and unthinkable price, which began on Christmas morning when the Son of God began the long walk to the Cross from the safety of the manger. Christmas leads to Easter. Both were necessary because of sin. My sin. Your sin. Their sin.
If I never recognize my sin, I would never know my need for a Savior.
When it comes to eternity, knowledge is power.
The Love of Advent is not warm and fuzzy. It is tough love, It is strong. It is fierce and relentless and endless in it's pursuit of the beloved.
May we, the children of God, truly love like Jesus.