Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them. (John 17:24-26)
The True Meaning of Love
Jesus reveals in His prayer that before there was anything else in the universe, there was love, eternally flowing between the Father, Son, and Spirit – both giving and receiving. He also reveals His desire for this same love be in us all. We are made in God’s image, so it’s no wonder we all carry a deep desire to be loved. But not just any love will do. No, the love we receive from our parents, spouse, children, or friends is not enough and not quite right. No matter how close our family or how healthy our marriage, we still long for the love that comes from being completely seen and truly known. Yet, there is only One who has this capability. As the Psalmist cries, “O Lord, you have searched me and known me!” The Lord knows all our ways – every thought, every word, and he loves us anyway, or perhaps all the more for it. Thus, His love for us is not only complete but it is unique to each person. As in, not just good people on their good days. Nope, He loves all – all people.
Last year, the Lord called me to help transport Palestinian children from Gaza to Sheba Hospital in Tel Aviv for heart surgeries and diagnostic appointments. During an overnight emergency room visit, a young Muslim mother asked through Google Translate why I left my children in the United States to help hers. I showed her the cross on my necklace, and said “I love,” then held her hand and said, “and Isa [Jesus] loves you.”
Love in Action
Jesus explained this very thing to Nicodemus, “For God so loved the world He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” God loves the world, His entire creation; and just as we wish to spend time with our loved ones, so does God. He desires for all men to be saved. But then, how will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? Before He ascended, Jesus gave us our marching orders: Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”
So, there you have it. We, children of God, are called to bring all nations to Him by teaching them everything Jesus commanded…and Jesus commanded love. The first and greatest commandment is to love God, and second is like it: love your neighbor. All the law and prophets hang on these two. In fact, Jesus says that is how all men will know us, by our love. This advent season, we remember the incarnation of Jesus, the Son of God took on flesh and dwelt among us. He ate with sinners, wept with mourners, touched the untouchable, and saw the unseen. This is how we too are made to love others - by entering in and knowing them as we wish to be known.
Abba Father, thank you for loving me. Thank you for knowing me, all of me. It is impossible to fathom and almost too wonderful to bear. Thank you, Jesus for your sacrifice on the cross, so that I may dwell with you and you in me. I ask the Holy Spirit to saturate me, to make me more aware of your presence. Give me your eyes to see others as you see them, your heart for them, and your words to speak. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.
(Psalm 139:1; John 3:16; 1 Timothy 2:4; Romans 10:14; Matthew 28:19; Matthew 22:37-40; John 13:35; John 1:14)
God's Plan for Christmas Day
In the mountain villages of Slovakia, residents are making the final preparations to celebrate Christmas. One of their traditions is to put up the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve. That is also when they have their big Christmas meal with family. In Slovakia, children don’t believe Santa Claus comes at Christmas, but rather on December 6th, which is called Saint Mikulas or Nicholas day. They tell their children that the baby Jesus brings their toys on Christmas Eve.
Though many people around the world are celebrating this time of year, one has to wonder whether they truly understand the significance of the birth of Christ. This is how the story starts: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1). The culmination of His creation was man, whom He made in His own image. God’s purpose was that man could have a relationship with his Creator and God.
But God is a perfect God, and in order for a person to have a relationship with Him, they must be perfect as well. Adam and Eve started out well, but eventually they were deceived into deciding for themselves what was right and wrong. In a sense, they thought they could be their own God. That was a fatal miscalculation. It only brought death to mankind and an eternal separation from God. And there was nothing any human could do to remedy the situation. Or could they?
Man’s folly did not take God by surprise. He already had a plan. And that plan was to send His own Son and give Him a human body. He sent us the Rescuer we needed. At Christmas, we don’t just celebrate the birth of a person called Jesus, we celebrate the Son of God taking on human form. We celebrate God coming to us, the impossible becoming possible. He to whom we could not draw near drew near to us and became Immanuel, “God with us.” (Matthew 1:23), And in so doing He saved us when we could not save ourselves.
Jesus lived a perfect life, the life Adam should have lived. He was tempted in a desert like Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden, but He did not falter. He continued that perfect life all the way to the cross. Jesus lived the life we were supposed to live. He was the ultimate Hero. Because He was sinless, Jesus didn’t deserve to die. But He was willing to identify Himself with all humanity, take our sin upon Himself, and pay the ultimate price for that sin. He came among us so that we might have the opportunity to know God as He originally intended. He became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Him, (2 Corinthians 5:21) and now we can once again approach our perfect Father and God.
This is what we pray for the people of Slovakia and all over the world to realize about the birth of Jesus Christ. Our Creator came to earth as our Redeemer. And He saved the day (and all eternity) for us. Let us celebrate His birth by giving glory to God in the highest!