The Gift of Love at Christmas

John, the apostle who wrote the book of Revelation, wrote three short letters that are before Revelation in the Bible. In 1 John 4, he unpacks the concept of love. As we open up first John 4:8, we read “God is love.” These three are the most important words you can find in the Bible. If your Christian faith is not built on those three words, you're going to have serious difficulties following Jesus. It’s hard to be a Jesus follower if you don't believe God is love. You're going to struggle to love God and trust him and have hope in Him. God is love. This doesn't say God can love. This says God is love. His nature is love. From his very character, the wellspring of his life always flows love.

God Shows His Love

If God is love and if love acts, how did God show his love? John continues to show that God proved his love by sending Jesus at Christmas. The Scripture passage that goes with that is 1 John 4:9.  “God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him.” If we were telling that story today, we'd probably start with something like this: “once upon a time.” But then we'd have to say, No, scratch that, because once upon a time is how you start a fairy tale or a fantasy or a fable or something that's not real. So we would say: “once in time.” Once in time, when there are real humans on the face of the earth and children were born and people lived and older people died in that kind of world, Jesus came and God decided to send into that world the most precious gift. He had, his own son.

There's only one reason he did it because in love, he wanted us to know him and he wanted to know us. He wanted to create us so that we might have a love relationship with him and with everyone else. You have to believe that at Christmas God came to the earth in the form of a baby. It's easy to believe that God is great. It's hard to believe that God is very small. But you can hardly get smaller than a baby. Born smack dab in the Middle East and a poor little town.

Why Jesus Died

The reason the son of God had to die is that God saw us and saw that our lives are so out of sync with his purposes that he wanted to make them right. He knew that he was the only one that could make it right. He knew that if he left it up to us to make restitution, to make amends, there was a flaw in us so deep that we would never do it. God, at great personal cost to himself. sent his son to the cross.

Dare we even say went with his son to the cross? I get that from 2 Corinthians 5, where the Apostle Paul says God was in Christ, reconciling all things to himself. In order to make us right with himself. By Jesus' death, all of our sins have been forgiven.

Let's look at 1 John 4:11-12. John concludes this section, “Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we should surely love each other.”

No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God loves us in us. Some translators say his love is perfected in us. I tend to think God's love was perfected when he sent Jesus, which is true. John says that God's love is perfected in us every time we love another person freely.

God So Loved The World

Here's another way to say it from John. 316. “God so loved the world that he sent Jesus.”God so loves the people in your world that he sends you to love them. I know that Jesus came 2000 years ago, one of a kind, and did exactly what he was supposed to do. The perfect son of God. You're very imperfect, and yet God sends you into your world and all your relationships for the purpose of loving people.

I've come to the conclusion that there are only two ways people will ever see God in Jesus and in you. So if people are going to see God in you this Christmas, if the person across the table from you or across the den from you is going to see Jesus in you, then how can you do that? How can you love the person right in front of you on Christmas Day? Suspend your judgments this Christmas because you don't know all the story. And you may not be right. And you and I certainly are not God. Is that what the Spirit wants you to pay attention to? Call a truce if necessary, and lead with love.

Next Steps

There will be some relational tension, especially since in the last two years many of our friendships and family relationships are more fractured than they were three years ago. In light of that, how can you show love? Ask questions, then listen to the other person. Show the other person that they are important and that they matter to you. This pattern is relational gold. It opens doors that you can’t believe.