The Advent of Love

By: Dustin Walters

In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son [to be] the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another" (1John 4:9-11, NKJV).

Introduction  

We live in a culture that one of my mentors describes as “being in love with love.” What my mentor meant by this statement was that there is an excessive amount of talk about love even though a common understanding of that term must not be assumed. Romantic fanaticism permeates every aspect of culture, whether in literature, art, film, or music. Many of you are probably familiar with The Beatles’ hit, “All you need is love/Love is all you need.” The need to love and be loved was put in us by our Creator when He made us in His image.  

I do not think we all mean the same thing when we discuss love, though. Regardless of how one might define love, we as Christians look to the Bible and to Jesus for our definition of love. In this blog post, Matt and Dustin will reflect on the Advent of Love. In the Christmas story, love arrives in the Christ-child who embodies selflessness and others-focused love. Another way to think about this is to refer to it as the “love of Christmas”. Jesus embodied true love in the Incarnation and his sacrificial death on the cross.  

Love Defined 

Five descriptions of love are found in the Bible. Some overlap exists in these various forms but the keywords used to define love are chessed, ahava, agape, phileo, and eros. Expressed these words in a different way, the Bible refers to covenant love, interpersonal human love, selfless love, brotherly love, and romantic love. It is important for us to develop a working definition of love before we can consider how that love is embodied in Jesus the God-man.

God’s love centers on His covenant relationship between himself and his creation. It is a love that expresses itself in clear action but was ultimately displayed on the cross where Christ’s body was broken for you and me. John 3:16-17 most clearly articulates God’s love toward sinful humanity.  

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. "For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved" (John 3:16-17, NKJV).

Biblical Reflection 

The passage from 1 John at the beginning of this post describes a counter-cultural kind of love. This counter-cultural love is not merely an abstract concept reserved for scholars. The kind of love the bible describes is embodied in the second person of the Trinity, Jesus the Messiah. This is agape love on clear display and is the love we all desire on the deepest levels of our humanity.  

Love at Christmas 

Advent is beautiful for many reasons and is depicted through each of the four themes of hope, joy, peace, and love. It is at this time in the year we are invited to reflect freshly on God’s amazing and indescribable love for us. God’s love is not a lofty concept merely for philosophers and theologians; God’s love is for you.  

Even on your worst days, you can rest in the promise that God loves you and that His love for you does not diminish when you sin or when you put something else before prayer and Bible intake. He proved his love on the cross and he invites you to walk in relationship with him.  

We can never understand the full beauty of God’s love. We cannot comprehend the way in which the Father, Son, and Spirit have existed in a beautiful harmony of love throughout all eternity. God’s love in some ways is like that excellent melody in which all the parts harmoniously form a whole. God’s love is not for understanding but for receptivity.  

The deepest longing of the human total personality is a longing to love and be loved. Dear reader, your search for love will never be satisfied in the temporary thrills and pleasures of this world. Your search for love is satisfied only and fully in the God-man, born to Mary and Joseph in first-century Bethlehem. The story of Christmas allows us to reimagine this love and also enables us to love the unlovable because love points us directly to Jesus.  

Let us surrender our lives to loving King Jesus, the one who left glory to reconcile you and me. Let’s seek to be agents of transformative love in our cities and communities this Christmas and every day. His Spirit of love abides with us still.  

Conclusion  

Many people will go through the holidays experiencing great sadness and loneliness. We as the people of God must recognize that we are ambassadors of our king. We must recognize that he uses our broken vessels to pour out his glory on others. While none of us can be as loving as Jesus, we must demonstrate our love for God and others in tangible ways. Who can you share the love of Christmas with? How will you do it?  

One of Wesley’s great hymns serves as a fitting conclusion for this post.  

Love Divine All Love’s Excelling, Charles Wesley 1894 

1 Love divine, all love excelling, 
Joy of heaven, to earth come down! 
Fix in us Thy humble dwelling: 
All Thy faithful mercies crown. 
 

2 Jesus, Thou art all compassion, 
Pure, unbounded love Thou art: 
Visit us with Thy salvation, 
Enter every trembling heart. 
 

3 Come, almighty to deliver, 
Let us all Thy life receive; 
Come to us, dear Lord, and never, 
Never more Thy temples leave 

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