If I were to ask you “What is the most romantic day of the year?” many of you would respond “Valentine’s Day”, right? Nope.It’s not even the second most romantic day of the year. According to data released by Facebook last year, Christmas Eve is the most likely day to get engaged, followed closely by Christmas Day then New Year’s Day and finally Valentine’s Day. While Valentine’s Day may get all the glory for being the holiday of love, it’s pretty clear that Christmas holds a definite corner on the market.
And while it may seem odd at first to associate Love with this season, it really isn’t. After all, we give gifts to our loved ones and do acts of charity to share love with others. From a spiritual standpoint, Christmas is most definitely a holiday of love. No, not romantic relationships. See, too much cuddling in the cold and meeting under the mistletoe can blind us to the real love story of Christmas.
Love has been God’s story from the beginning. From the moment of creation, God’s love was part of the fabric of our world. God’s love was with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden both before and after sin entered the world. God showed His love by saving Noah and his family from the flood and giving them a new start. In the Old Testament God gave the commandments and law in love as a way for His people to atone for their sin and stay connected to Him. And His love turned the world inside out when He sent His Son to live among us—the God of the universe to be born in a stable, die on the cross, and rise again from the grave. It took love to disrupt and overturn the power of death and evil.
I’m going to guess that if I just say the reference John 3:16, many of us in the hear the familiar verse run through our heads automatically. Just in case, it goes like this: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
The problem is, sometimes we are so familiar with this verse that we can recite it and look right past it, but God’s love in sending Jesus is the one love that changes everything. We know the verse so well that we can overlook it if we’re not careful. But this was and is the ultimate gift and act of sacrificial, holy, complete, and infinite love.
The message of this verse is the core of what we believe. So it makes sense that as we unwrap the gift of love today, we should start here at the center: God loved the world. He gave His Son. When we accept that gift and believe in Him, we are given His life—salvation and eternal life.
So the first thing we do with the gift of God’s love is so basic it’s easy to overlook. We must accept the gift. Notice I said “basic” not “easy.” For some of you, this step of accepting the gift of God’s love and believing in Jesus may be very difficult. It may be something you’ve struggled with for a long time, it may be a brand-new idea for you, or it may be a gift you’ve neglected for a while. Maybe you feel unlovable. Maybe you’ve been burned by human love too many times to trust that there’s something greater. Maybe you think, “You don’t know what I’ve done. You don’t know the dark secrets and doubts and fears and pain inside.” Maybe I don’t, but God does—and the love He offers sees and knows and understands. The love that God offers is Jesus Christ.
No matter what challenges or hurts you hold, God’s love can handle them and heal them. Wherever you are on your journey is okay. God knows. He understands. And His response is His open arms of perfect love.
Wherever you are, I encourage you to accept the gift of God’s love. Let this season of Advent be one of accepting the love and salvation God offers in His Son.
Adam Will is the Lead Pastor of Mt. Hermon United Brethren in Christ Church. The Church is located at 36411 Wickham Road, Pomeroy, Ohio. Their Sunday Worship Service is at 10:30 a.m. For more information about Mt. Hermon and its ministries, check out their website at www.mounthermonub.org or find them on Facebook.