I remember many Christmases ago, when I was in High School, that I would seek out the mistletoe. More in particular I would seek out one particular girl who I wanted to date and hope that I might catch her under the mistletoe. Alas, it never panned out. It probably had something to do with her boyfriend, but my idea of love was pretty shallow at the time. I know that I’ve grown in my understanding of what love is now that I’ve been married for 16 years and have five amazing kids. But if my wife were under the mistletoe this year, don’t think that I won’t hesitate to dash over there to her.
God’s Picture of Love
God has a much different picture of love and there’s no parasite involved. You’re probably expecting me to jump right to Jesus and talk about how God exhibits love at Christmas. We’ll get there, but take a look way back at how God defined love.
God’s idea of love is to provide for those who aren’t able to experience the fullness of life. Whether for a moment or for a season, God wants to make sure that people have what they need. For the fatherless, the orphans, God provided father figures and a family. For the widows who lost their husbands, provision, and security He provided food, housing, and acceptance. And for the sojourner, the one weary traveler who kind of stuck out like a sore thumb, he provided food, clothing and a place to stay. God did this through His people and has continually encouraged His people to live this way. It’s because this is what love looks like to God.
FOR THE LORD YOUR GOD IS GOD OF GODS AND LORD OF LORDS, THE GREAT, THE MIGHTY, AND THE AWESOME GOD, WHO IS NOT PARTIAL AND TAKES NO BRIBE. HE EXECUTES JUSTICE FOR THE FATHERLESS AND THE WIDOW, AND LOVES THE SOJOURNER, GIVING HIM FOOD AND CLOTHING. LOVE THE SOJOURNER, THEREFORE, FOR YOU WERE SOJOURNERS IN THE LAND OF EGYPT. Deuteronomy 10:17-19
This was God’s attitude in the Old Testament, continuing through Jesus and the first disciples, and He continues to love people in this way. He provides for each of us in what we need. And for those who have much He gives the ability to provide for others. He works this same kind of love into our hearts and helps us to see each other in this kind of way.
This sounds a lot like charity, but it’s not. It might sound like communism, but it really isn’t. It’s God’s way of loving us and helping us love each other because we’ve been there. “For you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.” This made a lot of sense to the people from Jesus’ time backwards and maybe not as much to us, but we’ve been there too. No, not Egypt. But we’re foreigners in a foreign land. We stand in need of God’s provision both physically, but also greatly in a spiritual sense. We are children of God in a dark and broken world. Our needs range from food and clothing to love and acceptance. Without this definition of God’s love we fall into consumerism, depression, despair, and distrust.
This is why God the Father sent forth His only Son, born of a woman, to provide for us what we could not have from anywhere else. He has given us His acceptance and forgiveness. God provides for us true security and provision as a Father who will never let us down. And He gives us a family that is larger than any biological family with tons of brothers and sisters that we can turn to for help. He did this all through Jesus at the time of Christmas. That’s what the message of Christ’s love is all about.
A Loving Family
The idea of God’s family is one that people either don’t get because they haven’t experienced it, or it’s something they’ve seen but not always done well. First of all, when we are in Christ we are the Family of God and there really isn’t anything we can do to change that. It’s kind of like being born into a family. My kids can’t really pick who their parents are (though they think they’d like to sometimes). They’re stuck with Jenni and me. And they’re stuck with each other for the REST. OF. THEIR. LIVES.
But with God as our Father that ain’t a bad thing. It’s the best thing we can have. And having each other can be a really good thing too. Unfortunately the people of God don’t exhibit the love that God shows us to each other very well all the time. We sometimes get the provisional love mixed up with mistletoe. (That’s why we all need His love.) But God encourages us, works on us and works through us to show this provisional love to each other.
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.
God has loved us, provided for us, taken care of us, made us His family, stepped in as our faithful Father, and given us each other. It’s out of this love that He equips us, encourages us, works through us and fills us to overflowing with this love. Jesus gave this as a commandment and it is something that we can do better as the Family of God, but we can’t do it alone. We need Jesus and His Spirit.
This is largely our pursuit at Veritas Community. We want to love each other with this kind of provisional, faithful love that God has for us, but we can’t do it alone. We need the Holy Spirit. Actually our pursuit is more in seeking out God’s Spirit and understanding His love for us first. Then we can love our brothers and sisters, the sojourners, and the widows and orphans better. We want to grow in the Gospel of Jesus Christ so that it takes root in our lives and so we can share it with each other and those around us better. We’ll mess up from time to time in loving each other the way God loves us. But I’m praying that God will continue to work on us and through us to better experience His love. Come check us out and be a part of the family!