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Love

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Light Shining in the Darkness

LOVE

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:1-14)

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. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him  (John 3:16-17)

“Jesus did many other miraculous signs in our presence, which are not recorded in this book because if every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.” (20:30, 21:25) but “these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.” (20:31).

Four things advent  teaches us about love:

1.  God Himself is the source of love…

The advent shows us that God Himself is the initiator of love.  Only Christianity teaches that before the universe was created, God existed in a community of love in the trinity.  Creation is God opening up the circle of His divine love and bringing us in.

Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him  (1 John 4:8-9)

The evidence of God’s love is that He came to us.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  (Romans 5:8)

God has in this sense “poured out his love on us”   John says in 1 John 3 that God has “lavished His love on us…”

What does this mean in the practical sense?  It means that there is not a second in our lives that we are not fully loved.  Many of the issues you deal with in life are because you don’t feel loved.  But to understand the gospel in the fullest sense is to know that there is not a moment that goes by in your life that the God of the universe is not pouring out His love on you.

In fact, what the Bible teaches are that the compassions of God are new every morning:

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,

for his compassions never fail.

They are new every morning;

great is your faithfulness.  (Lamentations 3:22-23)

Not only that, but His love for you gives you value and worth.  How do you know how much something is worth?  The answer is that you know by how much someone is willing to pay for it.  God paid the ultimate price for you.  This is why God Himself is the source of love.

2. His love is personal to every ONE of us

but “these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.” (20:31).

The great thing about God’s love is that it is not just that he loves everyone in the world, but that he loves everyone in the world as if they were the only one to love.

Jesus told the story of a lost sheep in Luke 15 as a way of illustrating the Father’s love. At the end of the parable, Jesus said, “I tell you there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one lost person who is saved than over 99 righteous.”

The story can only mean that God pursues the ONE.

3. He met us at our point of need

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

Soren Kierkegaard, the great Danish theologian told this story:

A prince who wanted to find a maiden suitable to be his queen. One day while running an errand in the local village for his father he passed through a poor section. As he glanced out the windows of the carriage his eyes fell upon a beautiful peasant maiden. During the ensuing days he often passed by the young lady and soon fell in love. But he had a problem. How would he seek her hand?

He could order her to marry him. But even a prince wants his bride to marry him freely and voluntarily and not through coercion. He could put on his most splendid uniform and drive up to her front door in a carriage drawn by six horses. But if he did this he would never be certain that the maiden loved him or was simply overwhelmed with all of the splendor.

The prince came up with another solution. He would give up his kingly robe. He moved, into the village, entering not with a crown but in the garb of a peasant. He lived among the people, shared their interests and concerns, and talked their language. In time the maiden grew to love him for who he was and because he had first loved her.

This very simple, almost childlike story, is what John is describing here - God came and lived among us. He has to reveal Himself to us in an understandable way, and this is precisely what Jesus did - became flesh just like you and me. He made Himself understandable.

4. His love changes us in profound ways

When we bring His love in and experience it, it begins to change us.

Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.  (Ephesians 5:1)

The book, “Miracle on River Kwai” was a story based on World War II events. The Scottish soldiers, forced by their Japanese captors to labor on a jungle railroad, had degenerated to barbarous behavior, but one afternoon something happened:

A shovel was missing. The Japanese officer in charge became enraged. He demanded that the missing shovel be produced, or else. When nobody in the squadron budged, the officer got his gun and threatened to kill them all on the spot… It was obvious the officer meant what he had said. Then, finally, one man stepped forward. The officer put away his gun, picked up a shovel, and beat the man to death. When it was over, the survivors picked up the bloody corpse and carried it with them to the second tool check. This time, no shovel was missing. Indeed, there had been a miscount at the first checkpoint.

The word spread like wildfire through the whole camp. An innocent man had been willing to die to save the others!... The incident had a profound effect… The men began to treat each other like brothers.

When the victorious Allies swept in, the survivors, human skeletons, lined up in front of their captors… instead of attacking their captors, they protected them and insisted: “no more hatred. No more killing. Now what we need is forgiveness.”  The sacrifice of this one man changed the hearts of those around him. He knew that he was innocent, yet he chose to take the blame just the same. He faced the punishment to save the others. God willing, we will never be faced with a situation as grim as this one. But we can still impact those around us by our actions. As the song goes, we can show we are Christians by our Love.

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God,

did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;

rather, he made himself nothing

by taking the very nature of a servant,

being made in human likeness.

And being found in appearance as a man,

he humbled himself

by becoming obedient to death—

even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place

and gave him the name that is above every name,

that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,

in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,

to the glory of God the Father.  (Phil 2:5-11)

Discussion Questions:

  1. What does it mean that “love comes from God”?
  2. How is it that God’s love is the love we are looking for in every other love?  Can you think of examples in your own life of “looking for love in all the wrong places”?  How does God’s love provide that need?
  3. In what ways does God’s love change our attitude?
  4. How does the Christmas event illustrate the love of God?
  5. What does it mean to you that God’s love is not just a universal love in that He loves everyone in the world at once, but that it is a personal love in that He loves everyone in the world as if they were the only one to love?


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