John 3:16-19—16 English Standard Version:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.”
So, we’re here… Just a few days until Christmas. I hope your shopping is all done, packages mailed, cards addressed, and halls decked. The last few days of Advent can be stressful, jammed packed with last minute shopping trips, parties (many of which you would honestly rather just skip) and get-togethers, and trying to salvage what’s left of your checking account. If we’re not careful, we’ll miss out on the greatest gift this season. Love.
I know, you thought I was gonna pull the “Jesus” card, didn’t you? Well, of course Jesus is the greatest gift we’ve ever been given, but it’s also kind of a trite “Sunday School” answer. Here’s what Jesus offers us this Christmas: Love. Now I know we think that Valentines Day is the day of love. But Christmas is the day when we celebrate the gift of God’s love given in the form of His Son, Jesus Christ.
You see, God has always loved us. All of us. Republicans, Democrats, Latinos, Anglos, Union, Management, Rich, Poor, etc. God made each of us in His image. He has loved us from before the beginning. He hasn’t needed to show it. But He did. My parents have demonstrated love to me in many ways over the years. And yet they still give me Christmas gifts. Every year my mother stocks me up with toothpaste and deodorant (If I’m around you and smell nice, you can thank her). Why? They don’t have to show me they love me, but they do.
God loves us so much that He sent His Son. He didn’t love us from afar. The Message paraphrases John 1:14 by saying that God “became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.” Think about that… God didn’t just send a card in the mail, He moved in to show us His love. And while we may not live 1st century Judea and Galilee, He’s come into our neighborhood as well.
And God knew that most people would refuse His gift. Yet he gave it anyway. When I think about how a majority of people will never know in this life what Christmas is truly about, I’m saddened. Yes, the shopping is fun, and it supports many local businesses. The packages and bows are pretty. The lights, they’re nice. Hallmark movies ad nauseum, great. But when the shops are closed, the wrapping thrown away, the lights unplugged, and Hallmark turned off… What then?
See, if you know Jesus, Christmas doesn’t stop when this week is over. It doesn’t end when you take down the tree or the kids go back to school. The message of God’s love, that Jesus is our Messiah, our Savior and King, well, that message carries us through the New Year and all year long. This message brings hope in the midst of despair, joy in the presence of sorrow, and love in the middle of hate. It’s the message that God loves you and offers you new life, eternal life. More than that, He offers you Himself.
All the way back in the Garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve sinned, a barrier came into being. That barrier, called sin, separates us from God. Jesus came to remove that barrier. He came to bring us back to God. He came to bring forgiveness. He came to offer Himself. And that, my friends, is love. That is Christmas.
Adam Will is a native of Meigs County, residing in the Texas Community with his wife and three children. He is the Lead Pastor of Mount Hermon United Brethren in Christ Church. He loves reading, engaging with others, and seeing people transformed by following Jesus. You can dialogue with him by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org , or listen to his messages by going to Mount Hermon’s website at www.mounthermonub.org .Find his blog at www.adamwill.net