Advent – LOVE

“Jesus’ Love Looks Different”

-Carol Brown

Today is our 3rd Sunday of Advent, the season during which we anticipate the celebration of Christ’s first coming at Christmas and we long for his future coming in glory!

Two weeks ago, Sarah shared with us about the HOPE we have in Christ. This hope is not a wish or desire, but a confident expectation that God will fulfill His promises.

Last week, Michelle talked about the PEACE that passes understanding, which God gives us when we surrender our lives to His sovereignty by prayer and petition with thanksgiving.

Today, we light the candle of LOVE. Notice that this candle is pink, which is different than the others. This should serve as a reminder to us that Jesus’ love looks different than the world’s love. As Christians, our love should look different. Does it?!

The radical love of Jesus involves sacrifice. “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13

We can lay down our lives for others in many ways besides physical death, namely in the sacrifice of our time, talent and treasure to serve one another, especially when it’s not convenient. For example, last weekend, Brian Johnson and his brother, Mark worked on a new computer network for the church from 8 am until 4 am the next morning. Sacrificial love, by definition, is costly. Jesus’ love looks different.

The radical love of Jesus also embraces our enemies. “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Matthew 5:43-45

This one is tougher, isn’t it? The Greek word for “enemy” in this verse is defined as someone resolved to inflict harm, someone driven by deep-rooted hatred, or someone who is openly hostile. Have you encountered anyone exhibiting open hostility this year?! How do you respond to them? Are you one of them? What do you say on social media? What attitudes do you harbor in your heart toward people who hold different positions than you? Even those who are openly hostile to the gospel are not the true enemy, but deceived victims of Satan, our ultimate enemy. Can we pray for them rather than lash out at them? Can we respond to them with “gentleness and respect” as the scripture commands (1 Peter 3:15-16)? Can we humbly listen to their point of view even though every word they say may offend us? Jesus’ love looks different.

Finally, the radical love of Jesus relinquishes rights. The Bible states so clearly that Jesus is God; He created all things, sustains all things, and is worthy of all worship and praise (John 1:3, Col 1:16-17, Heb. 1:2-4, Phil 2:9-11, Rev. 5:12-13). Yet He gave up everything that was rightfully His to come to earth that we might be reconciled to God (John 3:16).

“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross!” Philippians 2:5-8

I am incredibly grateful for the legal rights we have in our country. However, I find we often cling to what we think are rights that may not be rights at all, for example, the “right” to be treated well or the “right” to be heard. Clinging to our entitlements can conflict with God’s call for us to lay down our lives for others. When you find yourself saying or thinking, “I deserve…,” remember that Jesus gave up his rights and bore what He did not deserve for your sake. Jesus’ love looks different.

Let’s pray.

Jesus, we come before you today in humility and gratitude for the incredible, unconditional, radical love you showed for us in coming to earth as a helpless human baby, taking the nature of a servant and ultimately humbling yourself to death on a cross. Please transform us by your Spirit, that we might be able to love our neighbors sacrificially, to love and pray for our enemies with humility, and to relinquish our rights joyfully, that others may come to know your radical love. May our love look different. Amen.

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