Jesus Christ: Love for the World

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, December 23, 2018 0 comments

by Logan Ames

If there is one Christmas song/video that just absolutely wrecks me every single time I hear it, it’s definitely “Christmas Shoes." I’m certain that I’m not the only one for whom that is true. Just in case you haven’t been emotional yet this Christmas season, you can find it here. Why is this such an emotional song for me and for so many of you? The obvious answer is that it’s because of the sad nature of the song, but I think it’s more than that. Generally when we hear it, we are in the middle of a Christmas season that has become unnecessarily stressful. We get consumed by plans, parties, and purchases. For me, this year has been especially hectic because of preaching! It’s the first time I’ve handled preaching duties for the entire Christmas season, including a separate children’s program and two Christmas Eve services, by myself at my church. I’ve found myself getting annoyed by those who distract me when I’m trying to “get things done” for the church. How ludicrous! The man in the video was clearly a busy man, living life on the run and trying to get his last-minute shopping done after work. He was in a bit of a hurry, yet there in front of him was a little boy whom God put there to remind him of what Christmas is all about.

Just as the man in the video was not too busy or hurried to help a stranger, Christmas reminds us that God has never been too busy or distracted to help a hurting world. These past few weeks, I’ve been talking about how Jesus represents the hope, peace, and joy that is available to the world because of him. But I have saved “love” for this last week before Christmas because love is the only one of these things that God actually IS. Moreover, 1 Corinthians 13:13 tells us that even though faith, hope, and love remain, “the greatest of these is love." Love is the greatest because it is personified in Christ, the living God. God doesn’t need faith in anything above himself. He also doesn’t have to find a way to be hopeful. He sees everything, including the future, so hope is not necessary for him. But love is something that God can’t help but do. It is in his very nature, according to 1 John 4:16.

The type of love described in 1 Corinthians 13 and 1 John 4 is based on one of four ancient Greek words used for “love." While the other three describe romantic love, familial love, and brotherly love, the word in these chapters that describe godly love is agape. Agape love can be defined as “self-giving love that gives without expecting repayment; it doesn’t change; it’s a love that is even given to the unlovable, it loves even when it is rejected; self-sacrificing; only possible with Jesus." This is the type of love that God has shown us. True agape love in action always has to do with giving. Robert Louis Stevenson once said, “You can give without loving, but you can never love without giving." God is love and he has been giving since the beginning of time as we know it. Genesis tells us about the beautiful world that he created; then he gave the world mankind. It says he put the man in the Garden of Eden to tend it and take care of it. So, he created a world that couldn't take care of itself, then gave it a human race to take care of it. But man had needs as well, so he also gave man the world. Man could eat from the various plants and fruits. Then, God realized the man was alone and that wasn’t good, so he made a helper suitable for him (Genesis 2:18). So, that’s when Eve came along. God is a Giver and has been in the business of giving to us since.

God continued to give his people what they needed all the way through the Old Testament, and there was much anticipation regarding the ultimate gift that was coming to them - the promised Messiah. Then, God presented that gift to trump all gifts. Many of us have searched all over God’s green earth looking for the best Christmas gifts for our loved ones and the best possible bargain. But God’s best gift looked a little different than ours. It was under a roof in a stable in a dirty manger, not under a pretty green tree. It was wrapped in a swaddling cloth, not shiny wrapping paper. And most importantly, it wasn't purchased on sale. It cost the Giver everything! John 3:16 tells us that God gave up his “only begotten Son” because of his love for us. We often immediately compare it to our own children and say, “Well, I don’t think I could ever give up my child for someone else." But the gift was even greater than that. The phrase “only begotten” is from the Greek monogenes, which means “only one of its kind." So, the gift of Jesus that was given to all of us was not just an only child. He was the only child of his kind that there ever will be!

The question, then, is what are we going to do with this great gift of love that we’ve received. Are we going to be only takers, or givers as well? The Bible doesn’t leave us with much of a choice. 1 John 4:19-20 tells us, "We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen."

So, how do we live that out? Sometimes we're put in situations where we are not sure if we're supposed to help or not. But when it comes to loving others, it's always better to give (money, time, attention, compassion) unless giving would cause greater harm to the person. That’s the only time we should not give, when the loving thing to do is not give. Otherwise, we don't even have to stop and pray about it because we already know what God's Word says about loving others. So let's err on the side of giving and loving. An author by the name of Mishi McCoy said, "I would rather drown in the depths of love than splash around on the shore of complacency." This is how God wants us to live in view of this great gift he has given us out of his love for us. We have to remember that God was not complacent when it came to our needs. He came to our rescue right when we needed him, and he still does to this day.

We celebrate and remember the greatest gift ever given at Christmas each year. We celebrate his birth because we know what he did in death, freely giving up his life for those whom he calls friends (John 15:13). If you are a believer and follower of Jesus, you are his friend. He demonstrated his love for us in letting true agape love drive him to give up everything for us. And now we are called to do the same when we encounter others with needs that we can meet. According to 1 John 3:17, refusing to meet the needs of others is a clear indication that we don’t even have the love of God in us.

Love is a concept most people, even non-Christians, agree should be a priority. It’s very popular nowadays to “talk” about loving everyone. But C.S. Lewis had a great quote about this and it’s possibly my favorite ever. He says, “It is easier to be enthusiastic about Humanity with a capital ‘H’ than it is to love individual men and women, especially those who are uninteresting, exasperating, depraved, or otherwise unattractive. Loving everybody in general may be an excuse for loving nobody in particular." God doesn’t call you to personally show love in action to all 7 billion people on the planet. You’re not going to meet them all. It’s not even likely that you know every person in your hometown. But you WILL have chances every day to SHOW love rather than just talking about loving people. And the ones God puts in your life are the ones he wants you to love, whether they are in your life for 30 seconds or 30 years. As you celebrate the birth of our Savior and Lord this coming week, remember to get out there and take every opportunity to love those God puts in your path. Give freely, just as you have been freely given!

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