the Church on the Hill
by D. Eric Williams
Pastor, Cottonwood Community Church
The Christmas season reminds us of the love of God in Christ. We are reminded that, love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love (1 John 4:7-8). God's love is shown in his constant concern and care for creation as he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust (Matthew 5:45). However, God's love is most eloquently displayed in the Eternal Son clothed in human flesh, Jesus the Christ. Thus, In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him (1 John 4:9).
We tend to forget that the display of God's love in Jesus Christ began with the Savior's birth. Our thoughts typically focus on the death of the Son at Calvary and his blood shed to cleanse us from sin. This is right; Paul himself claimed he went to Corinth, determined not to know anything ...except Jesus Christ and Him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:2). Nevertheless, we do well to meditate upon the love of God as revealed in the birth of the Messiah as well.
According to the witness of Scripture, godly love is to perform the highest good for the other person even at great cost to oneself (Ephesians 5:2, Philippians 2:1-5). It is a love that requires wisdom so we do not inadvertently confirm another in sin. What may seem to be love to the human mind might not be. For instance, we may think it is loving to give a handout to a beggar with no strings attached and yet our charity is used to reinforce his enslavement to liquor. Meanwhile, godly love seems heartless to the casual observer because it is focused on the highest good. Therefore, Christ-like love may compel one to refuse the plea for cash. Instead, the Believer will take the beggar in, help him learn a marketable skill, get a job and generally put his life in order. This would be in keeping with the self sacrificial love God showed us in Christ. And it is the only way the world will know about God's love. Telling them is not enough. Our telling must be accompanied by our doing. As Jesus said, 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 (John 13:34-35, see also John 17:21). The newness of the command was not in the demand to love but in the requirement to follow the fresh example of God's love as manifest in Jesus Christ. In short, Christians are required to wisely exercise self sacrificial love as a means of manifesting Jesus to the world.
The Christmas season is an excellent time for us to meditate upon the love of the Eternal Son. Even while we were still sinners, Christ came to earth, was born of the virgin Mary, lived under the law and died for us (cf. Romans 5:8), thus performing the greatest good for his elect at tremendous cost to Himself (see also Philippians 2:1-11). We too are called to do the highest good for others even at great cost to ourselves. And there is no better time of year to start than now. Merry Christmas.