1 John 4:7–12 (ESV)
7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
What a statement. John doesn’t say God has love, he says God is love. For Christians, this a foundational truth. God loves you and me, not because he has to, but because he can’t help doing so. To hate us would be to deny His nature. God is love. I know this sounds untrue, and more than a little ridiculous, but it is only a fairy tale if it is untrue. If it is true, then it is a powerful truth.
Somewhere in the commercialized Christmas we still want to believe that it really is about love, but there is an inconvenience to this love that isn’t at all what your local department store wants you thinking about right now. The inconvenience is Jesus. No, not the baby Jesus. Not Jesus meek and mild, but the Jesus who was brutally killed, buried, and resurrected. That Jesus. The one that isn’t always so pretty but is always powerful.
We know God is love not by our material comfort or our Hallmark sentimentality. We are assured that God is love by a bloody death on a cross 2,000 years ago. We give gifts at Christmas – hopefully – as a sign of our love for others. I love giving and receiving gifts. I really do. The challenge for me is not giving gifts, but it allowing myself to embrace and express fully the love gift that bought my freedom and began when a Divine baby was born to a virtuous young woman. You know, the kind of love that didn’t come wrapped in pretty paper.
We beseech thee, Almighty God, to purify our consciences by thy daily visitation, that when thy Son Jesus Christ cometh he may find in us a mansion prepared for himself; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, now and for ever. Amen.