If you’re reading this, then the world hasn’t ended and there’s more work to be done – on us, around us, and, perhaps most importantly, through us! Here are a couple of tips (not an exhaustive list) from our Christmas Eve sermon to take to heart this Christmas.
First, God is love. 1 John 4:8 says it clearly: “Anyone who does not love does not love God, because God is love.” Notice that the reverse isn’t true: love isn’t God. Instead, God is love, and consequently we should gain our understanding of what love is or isn’t from who He is!
Second, God’s love is active. It’s not an idea that we often use, but it fits wonderfully with the other points and is absolutely true. God’s love is an active love, a doing love, a busy love. God is not loving from afar, but He actually demonstrates His love. Paul says, “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). God shows, shares, and demonstrates His love toward humankind in a powerful way. J C Ryle once wrote, “The love of God towards the world is not a vague, abstract idea of mercy, which we are obliged to take on trust, without any proof that it is true. It is a love which has been manifested by a mighty gift.” Which leads to the 3rd characteristic of God’s love.
Third, God’s love is deep. Ephesians 3:18 says, “that you may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height an depth, and to know the love of Christ, that surpasses knowledge.” In view of recent tragedies, in view of life’s hardships, in view of the things that are other than the way we’d prefer them to be . . . we can argue policy or philosophy or politics, but there is really only 1 solution to our problems in life: the deep, deep love of God. It’s sufficient. It satisfies.
Fourth, God’s love is sacrificial. John 15:13 Jesus says, “Greater love has no man that this, that he lays down his life for his friends.” Jesus laid down His life on the cross for all who would believe. He made the ultimate sacrifice, by dying as a substitute for our sin-debt. Yes, we still die. Yes, we’re still sinners living in a sinful world. But the sacrificial love of God in Christ has paid our sin-debt so that we owe God nothing . . . if we’re Christians. And that should be the most liberating truth in our lives.
Fifth, God’s love is transformational. If you’ve been impacted by the love of God, then that will be manifested by change. Christianity is about change — change for the better, for our good and the good of others, and ultimately change is for the glory of God! Look again at John 15:13-14: “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lays down his life for his friends.” Then Jesus continues: “You are my friends if you do what I command you.” Our relationship with Jesus Christ should be manifested in the decision that we make, the lives that we lead: in a word, if we love Jesus we’ll obey His commandments and walk in His footsteps.
Finally, God’s love is missional. God’s desire is to spread His love throughout the world. It’s a love that is on mission. Therefore, we must be on mission. Listen to 1 John 3:18: “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” Following God’s example, love doesn’t sit still and talk about what should or could be done. Instead, love puts feet and hands to words and makes sure to accomplish the necessary.
Pastor Joe, 2012