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. John 3:16
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 1 John 4:7
One of the things that sometimes bugs us preachers, is how the word “love” is used in our culture. We over-use this word, applying it to whatever we like at the moment – our favourite movie or tv show, a song that is having it’s fifteen minutes of popularity, a certain condiment or a seasonal flavour on a local menu. We “love” at an alarmingly low-rate.
And the media we consume is no help – Facebook allows us to click ‘love’ on any post we are mildly amused by or with which we agree. Characters on the shows we watch fall in and out of love with each other every other episode. And at this time of year, Hallmark movies equate Christmas love with good-looking actors and actresses who have some sort of misadventure together. (And since I’m a hopeless romantic, I will just admit to having watched waaaaay too many of those movies over the past several weeks!)
God defines love differently. God defines love as being willing to sacrifice, being patient and kind and keeping no record of wrongs.
Jesus shows us this love by stepping out of heaven, into our dark, broken, messy world. Living amongst us, healing those who were sick and in need, restoring honour to the shamed, teaching any who would listen about what God is really like, laying down his life to save us from our sin, and inviting us in to the work of blessing the world, in his name.
This advent, may you love extravagantly. May you bless others. May you participate in God’s work of love that brings light to a dark world. May you know that God is with you.