For God so loved the world that He gave…
In his book “Love Does”, Bob Goff points out that love is not so much a feeling, as an energy that has to be discharged. God so loved you and I, in spite of our profound offense against His holiness,
that He gave His one and only Son…
The extravagant love energy of the Godhead was discharged in an unprecedented act of giving that transformed the course of all of human history, and will continue to ring throughout eternity for all eternity! God loves so deeply that He did not merely give humanity something out of heaven’s plentiful resources: He did not sprinkle a blessing or two, or dispatch an angel, or convey an encouraging message, or provide a quick answer to prayer.
He gave Himself.
Love is self-giving – the giving of self to another.
The sacrifice of Jesus did not begin when He submitted Himself to the agony of the cross on our behalf. The sacrifice of Jesus began when He stepped down from heaven’s throne, shed His royal robes, set aside His kingly crown… And instead took on the form of a helpless baby, dependent on the very humanity He had Himself created!
His sacrifice continued as He gave up the perfection of heaven to instead walk through all the mess of humanity - along with its wrongdoing and pain and treachery and fear and betrayal – and everything else that goes with a fallen world. Although it must have been a stench to His holiness, He walked right through the middle of it all, showing no distaste for the refuse He walked amongst, discharging His unflagging love energy through the giving of Himself tirelessly
to those who were hurting
to those in despair
to those who were sin-sick
to those trapped in bondage from which they could not free themselves
to those who responded with disdain
to those who rejected Him and the love He offered…
He looked past all of this into the depth of the fractured human heart, and forgave…
Love is not only giving… it is forgiving!
As we celebrate the baby born as Emmanuel, “God with us”, we remember that through Him, God has made us the recipients of the gift of His lavish, undeserved, self-giving, forgiving, extravagant love, poured out into our impoverished hearts and lives.
At this time of year, we may strain our brains and our bank accounts in an effort to come up with the “perfect gift” for others. Often we lose sight of the truth that we give these gifts in remembrance and celebration of the greatest gift ever given - by God Himself.
But stay! Can we cease our frenetic activity for a moment, and consider the question: “what is that you have in your hand”? For as recipients of the overwhelming gift of God’s love deluging and delighting our lives, we have a gift of unprecedented value to give away: The same love, given to us by God, spilling from our lives…
… gifted into the lives of others who are
trapped in bondage from which they cannot free themselves…
and yes! Also the giving of self in love, into the lives of those who
treat us with disdain
reject and hurt us
don't "deserve" it...
Why? Because the cry of a Baby who humbled Himself for the sake of love, echoes in the cry of a Savior who sacrificed Himself and suffered for the sake of that same love. He it is who beckons you and I now, to follow by the way of His cross, allowing Love’s great cry of grace and mercy to echo through our lives.
“Freely you have received, freely give” (Matt.10:8).
Now that’s a gift!