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December 22, 2023



This coming Sunday is the final day of Advent. Advent (meaning, arrival) is celebrated as Christians remember that Jesus’s coming has brought hope, peace, joy, and love from heaven and it has infiltrated earth. Jesus’s coming took what was perfect in heaven (himself) and made it tangible among humans. Advent celebrates the arrival of experiential hope, peace, joy, and love. It also looks forward to Jesus’s second coming when all those things (and us!) will be made complete and perfect.

 

The fourth Sunday of Advent recognizes God’s Love. Moses instructs Israel with these words which God had given to him:

 

4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. -Deuteronomy 6:4-6

 

In the book of Mark, Jesus will quote this as being the summation of all of God’s law and Word:

 

29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” -Mark 12:29-31

 

The greatest gift is God’s Love through Jesus. The greatest response we can have as followers of Jesus is to love. It’s interesting to me that Jesus doesn’t say our greatest response is obedience. He could have said that and been well within biblical ideals. He could have said that our best response is morality. That would line up with the laws of the Jews and practices of Christians as well. But he didn’t say that. He didn’t even say that God’s Word is summed up in being good or on the right side of a cosmic and cultural battle. What he did say is… Love.

 

John 3:16 is clear. God showed his love to us by giving us his only Son. If we believe in Him, we will live forever with God in the embrace of his loving mercy!

 

During the season of Advent, I’ve been encouraging us to not only to reflect on these words which align to each week, but to discover them anew and to live them out in fresh ways and with intentional habits this season. So, how do we “do” love?

 

With all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. You see, we are created as a whole person. We like to place emphasis on our minds quite often. We see our intellect as the driver of our lives. Afterall, what we believe is of our minds, right? Not so fast. The Bible just as often tells us to love God with our hearts and bodies. We are not just our intellect. Love for God and others must be more than just loving sentiments, good or right beliefs, or even worshipful thoughts. Love for God and others must engage our bodies, hearts, and the deepest parts of our soul. Love must be expressed by our whole person.

 

Love for God and one another must manifest in our attitudes and beliefs but also in our actions, our posture, our words, and our core reflexes. Love must be what wells up in our hearts and souls and spills out almost involuntarily. This season, my challenge is that love must not be a feeling or mindset. It must be a whole-person response to the King and to all who are made in his image. How will this be expressed from your life this week in a new challenging way?

 

  • Prepare a gift for someone who would never expect one from you.  

  • Practice consistent time of meditation on God’s Word this week. Thank him.

  • Tell a specific person in your life what you’re learning from Jesus in this season.

  • Write down your thoughts, learnings, and questions. Try re-writing Scripture or copy it in your own words.

  • Reach out to someone with whom you are estranged and seek healing.

 

As you celebrate Love, keep this in mind: Love was received by us from God in our whole person. Jesus brings renewal of our minds, worship from our bodies, salvation to our souls, and a new heart! This is the current reality. He also promises all of these will be made whole in his second coming! Come, Lord Jesus, quickly! Amen.

 

O come, O come, Emmanuel, And ransom captive Israel, That mourns in lonely exile here Until the Son of God appears. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

– 12th Century Latin Hymn

 

Merry Christmas,

Nathan

 



Nathan Hinkle

Lead Pastor

White Oak Christian Church





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