During each week of Advent, Restoration Church has been focusing on a specific theme. In the sermons preached and the Tom Wright devotional, Advent for Everyone, we have both heard and read about waiting, repentance and healing. This week we are looking at the theme concerning love.
Love is a word that is loosely thrown around these days. It is commonplace to hear people speak of loving food, people, places and things. There is even a love emoji that can be used in texts and emails. As a matter of fact, I am quite fond of the different colored emoji hearts and have been known to “love” posts and pictures on Facebook. You could say that I love the “love” emoji.
So, just what exactly is love? According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, love can be defined as the following:
- strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties warm attachment, enthusiasm, or devotion
- the object of attachment, devotion, or admiration
So it would seem that our human love is conditional. We love based on feelings and emotions and sometimes that can change.
The love that we read about in the Bible is much different. Biblical love has God as its object. He is the motivator and the source of all true love. God’s love is radical, it is unconditional, and it’s not based on feelings or emotions. He doesn’t love us because we’re lovable or because we do good things or make him feel good; he loves us because he is love. He created us to have a loving relationship with him, and he sacrificed his own Son (who also willingly died for us) to restore that relationship that had been broken due to sin. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he sent his only son…..” Yes, God loves us that much that Jesus took on flesh and became a human baby – fully divine and fully human. This coming weekend, we will remember and celebrate that birth while we also look forward to his coming again (Matthew 1:18-25, 24-30).
If we look at the life of Jesus, he teaches us what it means to truly love. In story after story we read how Jesus loved the unlovable, those that were considered “less than,” sinners or outcasts from society. Even today, he loves each one of us no matter what we have done or where we are in life. He wants to provide restoration, healing and comfort. He wants to restore us so that we can become the person God intended us to be. As Jed asked on Sunday, “What is blocking you or standing in the way of that relationship?”
But, Jesus also wants more for us. He wants us to extend that radical love and grace to others. When asked what is the greatest commandment, Jesus responded, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:36-40).
Is there someone in your family that needs some grace and love? Is there someone you work with, or someone else you may know that that is struggling with life, considered unlovable, less than, a sinner?
May we all remember how much we are loved in Jesus, our Emmanuel – God with Us, and extend that radical love and grace to others, not only during Advent and Christmas, but each and every day going forward.