Advent Reading Day 20 – Love in Action
“and she gave birth to her firstborn , a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” Luke 2:7
Love. There’s no motivation quite like it. It motivates us to do things that we otherwise would think silly or dangerous or unthinkable. It motivates the quietest of men to propose in front of large crowds. It motivates mothers to pray extra hard for their children. It motivates the wealthy to be generous and the poor to share the last of what they have. It causes parents to sacrifice to see their kids get the best education possible. It brings enemies to the table to settle disputes and the unforgivable to be forgiven. Love is the most powerful action in the world.
I get to see Love in action a lot here. I get to see teams of people who take their time, their money and their skills and come to serve among the poorest of the poor. Some come for a week. Some for a month. Some for longer. However for each person it cost them something to get here. With the money they spent they could have very easily vacationed in Jamaica or the Bahamas, stayed in a classy resort on a nice white sandy beach, drank pina coladas and hummed Barry Manilow tunes (Copa Cabana anyone?), yet love motivated them to do something different with their vacation money and time. They chose to come as love in the flesh and serve near the garbage dump among the poorest of the poor. They chose to get dirty and smelly and deal with not having water nor electricity at times. They chose to come where a hot shower is a luxury and forego the crystal clear blue water and the spa treatment. Why? Because of love.
Because of love they chose to touch lepers and wipe children’s snotty noses and hold helpless infants. They chose to expose themselves to environmental factors, consume unsafe food and survive Montezuma’s revenge with a smile on their faces. They chose to come somewhere that used toilet paper goes in the trash rather than the toilet, where squatty potties are common place and at times you are constantly hassled for money. Because of love.
Love motivates us to move outside of our comfort zone, to leave selfishness behind and to spend our time and money on The Kingdom rather than merely on ourselves. When love grips someone’s heart, watch out because passion is not far behind.
When we look to the manger, it truly is love that we see. It is the greatest love story of all time that finds its fulfillment in a Baby lying in a manger. God’s mission of love for humankind has now been expressed fully in the coming of Jesus in the flesh. Out of love He comes into our broken down, distorted, twisted world with a plan motivated by love. He comes not to simply rescue us out of it, but rather to transform us and the world around us. It is his love for us humans that kept Him from wiping us out by leaving us to our own broken ways. It is His love for creation that kept Him from simply lifting us out and letting the rest burn. It is His love for others that keeps Him patiently waiting rather than moving to judgment day too hastily.
When we look to the manger we see that there is nothing special about our love. We are not even the initiators of love as John teaches us in 1 John 4:19 that “We love because He first loved us.” Our love is simply an expression of His love for us. We cannot even call love our own, but rather we become the conduit for His love – He makes His love known to us and then He loves through us as we open ourselves up for Him to do so.
My encouragement for today is that you find some time to contemplate what His love for you means. Let the depth of His love expressed in the giving of Himself on your behalf in the manger go deep into your being. Let His love in action that meant that He left His heavenly privilege in order to be born into the humblest of settings grab ahold of you today. He loves you so much that He gave it all up, starting in the manger and finding its full measure at the cross.
Then let that same love grab ahold of you for how He loves those around you. Let that love for all grip you in such a way that you become a conduit for His love. He expressed His love in action for you and I…and now you and I get to do the same.
This Christmas love has the power to change the world because Jesus brand love is an expression of God Himself. However, love also has the power to do something much closer to home. Love expressed has the power to make this the greatest Christmas you have every experienced – because as you express it you will find this Christmas to have true meaning restored.
With one week to go, can you think of a way to express His love in action this Christmas? May He meet you in profound ways as you do so.
Prayer: Jesus, thank you for your act of love for me. Thank you for humbling yourself and leaving your seat of privilege and position in order to become a finite, humble, helpless infant. Thank you for giving of Yourself not only in the manger but also on the cross. Help me to more fully comprehend your love for me today, and then through that exercise help me also to become a conduit for your love to the world around me. I love you. Amen.