If you are walking in darkness, it is because you have never known the love of God. You have experienced it, but you didn’t recognize it. Somewhere along the way, you decided that you didn’t need it or couldn’t earn it, and you discounted yourself from the greatest, most radical form of love that was or is to come.
If you are walking in the Light of this world - the One whose glory will replace the sun in heaven - there may be a moment, days, months or even years that, deep down, you question God’s love for you (John 8:12, Revelation 21:23). You know it, but you have trouble believing it.
A situation stabs at your heart and your pain begins to seep doubt. All too suddenly, a concept as simple and childlike as Jesus loves you can become complicated by circumstance.
Our suffering, or sorrow, or past or current sins, can cast a shadow of unbelief over our hearts. We can question God’s love for us and whether we are worthy of it. The light of His love in our lives can grow dim and cold as the enemy whispers unworthy. Like a scorned lover, we can feel excluded from this most Divine Romance.
Yet the Christmas season – and the entire life of Christ - is explicitly about the great love of God, faithful and unfailing, coming in flesh to save us (John 1:14).
"For God so loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him” (John 3:16-17).
God’s great love drove His heart to give of His very Being, not only in the birth of His Son or His death on the cross but from the very beginning.
“Then God said, ‘Let us make man [humanity] in our image, according to our likeness’ ” (Genesis 1:26).
God, in His generous love, chose to create us to be a reflection of Him. Like parents to a child, He longed to make children who looked like Him and could reflect His love to one another.
Do you know that you are the crowning achievement of His creation? And doesn’t that make sense, since you are made in His image? You outshine the stars. His affection for you peaks the highest mountain, surpasses the depths of the sea, and stretches as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12).
How many times have I heard my own parents say, “You kids are the best thing we ever did”?
God is a proud, perfect and passionate Papa.
Just as the Trinity interrelates and loves One another, we are to model that relationship, receive the love of Christ, reciprocate it to Him, and freely give it to others. This exchange is the supernatural, agape love of God that is both unconditional and unflappable.
The Lord wants you to live in His perfect love – to walk in it and abide in it. But first, you must receive it.
“I love each of you with the same love that the Father loves me. You must continually let my love nourish your hearts. If you keep my commands, you will live in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands, for I continually live nourished and empowered by his love (John 15:9-10).
There is no greater gift than the love of God. It nourishes. It empowers. It casts out fear (I John 4:18). It covers a multitude of sins (I Peter 4:8). It surpasses all explanation and knowledge (Ephesians 3:19).
In Hebrew, the word for gift is minchah (min-khaw). It is the same word used to describe offerings and sacrifices all throughout the Old Testament. These offerings were a kind of tithe, a give back to the Giver of all things. The gifts God highly regarded and was honored by were the first fruits of the harvest or the firstborn of the flock (Genesis 4:4).
Jesus – love personified - our greatest gift, is the firstborn over all creation and the first fruits of the resurrection (Colossians 1:15, I Corinthians 15:20). God, in His great love for us, gave His most precious gift to us. It wasn’t the left overs of heaven but the best God had to offer – Himself incarnate.
The sacrifices the Israelites made for centuries before Jesus came were to temporarily atone for their sins. It was an insufficient and laborious system. An animal – typically a firstborn, unblemished sheep, goat, bull or bird - was killed and used as a blood sacrifice every time a person broke a commandment. Israel was a perpetual slaughter house.
John the Baptist, the final prophet and sounding alarm for the long-awaited Messiah, called Jesus “the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29, 36).
Jesus is God’s love offering to us and sacrifice for us. He is the propitiation for our sins, the all-sufficient atonement (I John 2:2). Jesus is our minchah.
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends” (John 15:13).
Jesus, for the joy set before Him, willingly endured the cross, its shame and suffering, because He loved us (Hebrews 12:2).
Is there anything causing you to doubt God’s all-encompassing, unceasing love for you today? Will you fill your name in the place that says, “For God so loved _______, that He gave His one and only Son?” Will you believe that His love is enough for you and receive it into your heart?
Remember, God made you in His image and likeness - that of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Trinity is highly relational, interactive and communal. God’s very essence and Being is love. Before you were even created or could attempt to earn your way into His heart, He declared you loved by the very way He created you.
We were made by God to receive and to give His plentiful and personal love.
What did Jesus declare, after all, to be our greatest commandment?
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Deuteronomy 6:5, Matthew 22:37-38). And the second greatest command? “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39).
He gave us these commands knowing the only way we could keep them is to abide in Jesus.
“As the Father has loved me, I have also loved you. Remain in my love” (John 15:9).
It is clear all throughout God’s Word, His love letter to us, that He loves us with an eternal, all-consuming love. Nothing can separate us from it.
“Know, therefore, that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments” (Deuteronomy 7:9).
This covenant love is boundless and unending. It is before us and behind us. There is nothing we can do to earn it and nothing we can do to lose it. Yet it will beckon you to obey Him, adore Him, and treasure Him, because once you realize how beloved you are by God, you will yearn to be His faithful follower.
Is there anything keeping you from being fully known and fully loved today? Know that whatever it is, God is fighting that battle with a legion of love.
Jesus is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies - the great Warrior, Protector and Redeemer. He is both the Lion and the Lamb. He encircles you with strength and places His hand upon you to lead you, guard you, hold you and defend you (Psalm 18:32, 139:5). He marches ahead of you, overcoming your enemies, making your way blameless and carrying a mighty banner over you that spells what?
“He brought me to the banquet room. His banner over me is love (Song of Songs 2:4).
God’s promise to love us is repeated throughout the Old Testament in the renewal of His covenants with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. His love was proven by His birth in Bethlehem and His death on Calvary and is guaranteed by the sending of His Holy Spirit to all believers.
As we wait for Christmas to come, we also wait for the Second Coming of Christ – the great promise of the new covenant.
In His incomparable love, Jesus has gone to prepare a place for us and has promised to come back for us (John 14:3). The Groom will come for His bride, the Church, and the everlasting love of God will be fully realized and celebrated for all time.
“Blessed are those who are invited to the banquet at the wedding celebration of the Lamb!" (Revelation 19:9).
Why would we ever doubt His great and perfect love for us?
Let the Lamb of God, the greatest gift of heaven, lavish you with His love this Christmas season and always. Jesus has made you worthy of it.
“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:17-19).