SPOILER ALERT: This is part of the Christmas Eve Sermon. If you don’t want to spoil the sermon, click here for another devotion.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son … – John 3:16a
Today we turn to the fourth Advent candle and ask, “What is love?”
- The first and clearest definition is this: “God is love” (1 John 4:8).
- Indeed, “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son” (John 3:16).
- And Jesus (his Son) so loved his world that he gave his very life for us on the cross. (The Apostle Paul tells us that “while we were still weak, at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly. Now, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. – Romans 5:6-8).
- And then Scripture tells us: “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus …” – Philippians 2:5
- Scriptures says, “Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.” (1 John 4:7)
The fourth candle of the Advent Wreath is the candle of LOVE.
We know God’s love! It’s written all over the cross. Near Valentine’s Day, I like asking the kids, do you see the big red heart in the church? They look all around the sanctuary, saying, “No.” Then I point to the cross. That’s what true love is.
Yes, the love of God is written all over the cross. It’s also written all over Christmas. When the Apostle calls to many things – like love – saying, “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus …,” he continues with a powerful Christmas image, saying …
6 who, though he [Christ Jesus] was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, 7 but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, 8 he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross.
He “humbled himself.” “Emptied himself.” The great God of heaven coming in “human form” was the first near-ultimate humbling. Coming naked. And then in diapers. Humble. That’s only one of two words that can describe Christ. Love is the other! Coming in human form was the near-ultimate humbling. God allowing himself to die on the cross that we ant-like humans put him on to save us who were ungrateful was the ultimate humbling and the ultimate love.
And we are called to have the same mind in us that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Phil 2:5). We are called Christ’s beloved and we are called to love one another (1 John 4:7). What is love? Now read the scriptural definition below through the first time, asking, “Am I patient, kind, and willing to bear all things?” Read it through the second time asking, “Is Jesus patient, kind, and willing to bear all things?” Then I’ll have one more question for you at the end …
4 Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. 7 It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never ends. … 13 And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.
The answer to the above question is easy. Your love is not perfect; it’s a standard you cannot reach. But Christ’s love is perfect. Thus, if you want to discover all that God has to offer, there’s only one hope: Can Christ-in-you be patient? and kind? and willing to bear all things? and having a love that’s truly enduring and never-ending?
In Christ’s Love,
a guy who sings
“O Little Town
Cast out our sin
and enter in,
be born in us today