Advent Reflections: Love

December 24, 2018

I have been crucified with Christ. I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loves me and gave himself for me.
Galatians 2:19b-20

Merry Christmas! Today, my wife and I are enjoying the hospitality of my family in Arkansas, and tomorrow we will begin enjoying the hospitality of her family in Missouri. Our prayer for you is that you are doing something very similar.

This month, we have been exploring the great themes of Advent. We have seen how hope, peace, and joy are integral to the message that Jesus has come to our world. We have also seen, however, that there is a deep and abiding ambiguity in how hope, peace, and joy manifest themselves—both in the event itself and in our experiences of it.

No such ambiguity attaches itself to our fourth theme. The coming of Jesus into the world is nothing less than the supreme act of love. It is God’s ultimate statement of commitment to and affection for humanity. It is a statement that was expressed through an unimaginable sacrifice. Its goal was not just to do something good for humanity, whether it be forgiveness for the wrong things that we have done, deliverance from our enslavement to evil, or instruction about how to live a full and meaningful life. Rather, it is also—and, perhaps, primarily—to bring us into a vibrant and lasting communion with our Creator, one that makes us His children, His friends, and His partners in the work of caring for creation and for one another.

On this and every day of the year, there is one thing that we at the B. H. Carroll Theological Institute want you to know more than anything else. God loves you. Are you a prostitute, subject to the whims of your pimp and his customers? God loves you. Are you a widow, mourning the loss of a cherished partner and wondering whether anyone knows or cares that you exist? God loves you. Are you a self-absorbed suburbanite who woke up this morning only to discover that all your wealth and all your achievements mean nothing in the face of your loneliness and mortality? God loves you. Have you poured your heart and your life in service to humanity, only to be left broken and afraid? God loves you.

How do I know? Because God sent His one and only Son into a broken, reckless, and evil world to experience all that such a world can dish up, and because God graciously offers His Spirit to anyone who will place their ultimate trust, loyalty, and love in Jesus. In other words, God gave of Himself, and He continues to do so. All you have to do to receive His love is give yourself to Him.

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