Sunday, December 23, 2012
Fourth Week of Advent: Love
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35
Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1 John 4:8
This week we light the Advent candle of Love. We remember the love of God for all mankind and look forward to the day when that love has its fullest expression at the end of history. We long for the day when love is truly the new law and we patiently and diligently work to make that a reality sooner rather than later. Followers of Christ, compelled by love, expand it’s borders each and every day.
Love can be a difficult thing to define and we often get it wrong. We make friends for the wrong reasons, get married for the wrong reasons and sometimes get bitter about it. Love seems to wax cold more often than not. Love is something that we constantly struggle to see become a reality.
Christians in this country are known to struggle for many things but sadly increased love is not always at the top of the list. We are known for being pro-life, pro-state sponsored prayer, pro-capitalism, pro-”Christmas” and most recently pro-gun but of what benefit are these if we are not known for loving our fellow man? Does the foreigner, the single mom, the homosexual, the mentally ill, the fatherless, the childless, the sinner as well as the saint know the love of God expressed in His people? Or instead do they know more about “God’s politics” and where “He stands” on gay marriage or Hobby Lobby?
Fighting for causes is not a bad thing but as we light the candle of Love let us remind ourselves of our first priority. As Christians our first calling is to love one another. Good religion is not one that grasps for power but cares for widows and orphans in their distresses and loves the neighbor as itself. As cliche as it may sound the world does not need more laws or more guns or more protests, it needs love. Specifically the Christ-shaped, self-sacrificial love that sparked a revolution in the poorest corner of the Roman Empire. This Christmas think about how that love has transformed you. Take time to show that love to another person. Give grace to those in your family or circle of friends who think differently than you do. Try to not fly off the handle when your buttons are pushed. Lord knows I need to get better at this too.
Lord, as we look forward to celebrating the birth of your son may we be filled with your love. Love that transforms hearts, melts hatred and satisfies our deepest longings. It is for this that we live. Set in us a fire to show this world just how loving and gracious you are.
When we feel old hatreds rising up; fill our hearts with your love.
When we think in categories of us vs. them; grant us eyes to see the whole world like you do.
When we cannot love ourselves; remind us of how wide, how high and how deep your love truly is.
When we grasp for power; show us a better way, your way.
Show us how to be loving in a time when it is easy to not be. Jesus you are love.