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Perfect Love

Scripture:

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life. -John 3:16


If you love me, you will keep my commandments. John 14:15


God’s desire is known in the great commandment “To love the Lord your God with all your heart, and mind, and spirit.” This is the love that God desires from us.

I believe that God desires that we practice responsible love, that is,

ABLE TO RESPOND… kind of love.

We need to be responsible in our walk with God, and one another. Love is able to respond. What about the love of God?

How does that help us understand how to RESPOND?

When we study John’s gospel, it’s not so much about saving us, but about the nature of God.

The nature of God is giving unconditional love shown to us freely through God’s Son, Jesus. It’s perfect love.

Perfecting love looks like this:

It comes down, goes up, and then goes out. In that order.

Perfect Love starts with the love of God that came down at Christmas.

Love looks like Jesus! It is…

· Not lip-service love, not a love that promises and

doesn’t deliver,

· not selfishness disguised as love.

It is love that gives us a different life as it is meant to be.

ETERNAL LIFE. A life with God because that is God’s desire for us.

AND that’s how much God loves us, even if we don’t think we deserve that love.

Jesus’ Advent, his coming, is full of hope and joy because of this.

We are not condemned but restored and saved.

Jesus coming is meant for this reason and is the whole point of Advent.

Jesus reconciled the world to God who created it and loved us enough to send Jesus who died for it.

God is always restoring us to that perfecting love.

In a world filled with hatred, evil, wars, pandemics and uncertainty that’s good news. Maybe, like me, you’re wondering: When will this all end and we live in peace again?

It will end when we allow love to flow this way:

· accept God’s Son and all that he did for us. God forgave us through his sacrifice. That’s love that came down.

· When we praise and worship God in gratitude…that’s love that goes up.

· And then, when we repent and forgive one another…that’s love that goes out.

This year has knocked us down and what I see is so much division, even in families who don’t see eye to eye on the pandemic, politics or the pressures we feel now.

We have turned against each other…friends, families, marriages, church members.

We have become unkind and I see many people becoming offensive and not extending grace. The spirit of offense is evil and alive and well, even amongst members of the church.

But love that comes down, love that praises removes the spirit of offense. And then love is free to go out. Free to offer grace and lovingkindness.

When this is all over, and it will be, we are going to have to repent. More than how to cure a virus of the body, we are going to have to cure a virus of the spirit in the body of Christ.

If we follow in the footsteps of Jesus, we need to examine our own response to others, especially those who think differently.

There are people in my family who don’t agree with how I see things and we have argued.

I recognize now that we will need forgive one another for the many hurts. Healing our country will take a while and it will be led by the church.

But we gotta get this right.

This Christmas, I encourage you to seek within your heart and ask some hard questions:


REFLECTION QUESTIONS:

Do we love the light of God’s love enough to step into it fully? Allowing it to:

Come Down

Go Up

And Go Out!

PERSONAL CHALLENGE:

· Am I experiencing the love of God?

· Am I filled with love for God?

· Am I known for loving people?

· What needs to change?

Repentance starts with us. Who will you reach out to and ask forgiveness from? Who do you need to forgive?

BE ABLE TO RESPOND with love.

Love looks like Jesus.

PRAYER

Dear Lord

Thank you for loving us so much that you gave your Son for us, even before we loved you. Thank you for inviting us into your family. For all of us who ae brothers and sisters in faith, please help us to love one another in perfect love.

Holy One, p lease help us to see every person the same way that you see them. Heop us to love them the wayyou love them--even when they don't love us back. Please show us how to walk continually in your love, that perfect love which casts out fear. We love you, Lord and look forward to your coming this Christmas. Amen.


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