In order to spend extra time with family, we are taking the rest of the week off from the blog. But we wanted to have our last post and explore the theme of love. Instead of weekly readings, I wanted to share just a few verses with you when it comes to love.
God is love (1 John 4:16)
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matt 22:37-40)
Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love. (1 Cor 13:13)
The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. (Gal 5:6)
We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters (1 John 3:16)
Notice the language used in these passages: greatest, only, real, all.
This is a very brief snapshot, but this is the language of the New Testament. When we boil down what it means to be a Christian, we can boil it down to love.
In Advent we celebrate love.
We celebrate the love of a God who made us and wants to be with us.
We learn to make room for love to grow within us.
We see the beginning of a journey as God defines love for us giving up all the power and glory that goes with being God to become like those God loves. We see God define love in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
God defines love in this helpless baby born in the most ignored and forgotten and lowly of circumstances.
This act of love is celebrated by two peasants, the ignored and rejected shepherds, and pagan foreigners. Every one else misses the show.
This is how love works because this is how God works.
Advent is a love story.
Advent teaches us what really matters.
Too often as Christians we miss what really matters.
Look again at the verses. Love trumps everything. And we know what love looks like when we look at the cross.
Too often as Christians we are asking the wrong question. We get caught up in all the extra things, and give too much weight to the things that can often keep us from love.
As Christians, our main question is: What does love require?
And the action of love is the unrecognized, humble giving of ourselves so others, no matter how much they do or do not deserve it can have life.
So this week, ask a different question. In the midst of travel and stress and Facebook debates and loneliness and working when you don’t want to be and family and shopping and gifts, change the question.
As you face each of these, simply ask: What does love require?
And if you aren’t sure, a good place to start is a baby laying in a manger whom we come to celebrate at Advent.