If you talk to me for very long the joys in my life are going to come up. I can’t help it (well, maybe I can, but I won’t).
I love to talk about Jesus. He loves me and gave Himself for me (Galatians 2:20). He took me at my worst as a spiritually dead sinner and gave me new life in Him (Ephesians 2:1, 4-5) – because of His great love! And He still loves me despite my continuing imperfections and foolishness, with the informed consent that comes with His infinite knowledge He cares for me (1 Peter 5:7).
I love to talk about Candice. I very clearly married outside my station in life. She loves me. Unlike God, she had no idea all the imperfections and foolishness she was getting into, but she has stuck with me all the same. She deserves more but wants me. I get to be her husband. I am blessed and get to grow in and follow Christ in such a way that maybe one day she will have the husband she deserves (and he still be me, ha).
I love my children. There are a lot of things I have failed at in life, but there is nothing I have given more effort to try to do right than to be their daddy. They have all of my quirkiness and weirdness, and they are beautiful and intelligent like their mom – what a lovely combination! I get to be their daddy. I am blessed and get to grow in and follow Christ in such a way that, whether they ever learn anything of worldly value from me, they will know what it looks like to lean on, serve, and be sanctified by the Savior.
The best part of having these joys in my life is that they love me.
My kiddos love me. They love me despite failures and flaws. But I have loved them since I first found out they existed. The moment Candice told me they had been conceived a whole compartment of my heart was renovated and designated for the love that I would have for them. Some other joys and other loves were shoved to the side. I don’t know what those joys and loves were – they paled in comparison and are not remembered.
Candice loves me. She would argue against this, but I loved her first. There is no one on earth more acquainted with my failures than she is, yet she chooses to love me and put up with me. She has flaws, too, but, rest assured, they are much harder to see (or believe) and you will never hear of them from me. I can remember the exact moment that I “fell in love” with her (or “caught feelings” as my school kiddos would say). May 30, 2003 changed my heart and life. In that moment, a whole compartment of my heart was renovated and filled with love for her. Just like the love I found for my children, it changed me.
But the most staggering – most surprising – love comes from God. He loves me. No one has ever loved me more than He loves me – not parents or grandparents or wife or children.
You see, His “eyes saw my unformed substance” and in His book “were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them” (Psalm 139:16). He knew every sin, every fault, and every flaw yet He still loved me. In fact, He showed His love for me (and you) “in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). No one loves like that, but God does.
He loved the whole world so much that “He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). I know me, and I know there is no classification of worthiness in which I would be worthy of such love. But that’s not how love works. No one on earth loves this much, but God does.
God’s love is set apart from all other loves by a word that you may have never heard before that changes everything: propitiation (Romans 3:23-25, 1 John 2:1-2; 1 John 4:10). Propitiation is a sacrifice that changes status and categories – in fact, it swaps them.
In the case of the love of God, His sacrifice for those He loves in Christ took the favor that the only Son of God deserved and swapped it for the shame earned by our sin (Colossians 2:13-14). His sacrifice took the righteousness that only Jesus could be capable of and traded it for our unrighteousness – His righteousness was credited to and traded for the negative balance of our righteousness accounts (2 Corinthians 5:21). His sacrifice took the eternal life that comes from the Light and Life Himself, Jesus Christ, and traded it for the death we deserve as sinners (Romans 6:23).
No one is capable of such love. And none of us are worthy of it. But God loves us eternally. We sing of the love manifested in His first coming. We sing of the love manifested in His death and resurrection. And we sing of the love to be had when He returns.
It’s His love that will be the inspiration and subject of our worship tomorrow and every day.
Here are our Scriptures & songs:
- The Son of God Came Down —
- John 3:16-21 —
16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”
- Midnight Clear (Love Song) —
- You’re Here —
- 1 John 4:9-10 —
9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
- Noel —
- (invitation) Make Room —
- (offertory) O Holy Night —
As a church, we are reading through the gospel of Luke each from December 1-4 as part of our Christmas to Calvary advent focus. You can grab a paper copy in the church lobby or download it here.
There are also daily audio uploads if you prefer to listen rather than read. Here’s Luke 18 for today’s reading:
If you have not been gathering, consider gathering with your church family again. Various variants are still issues in this prolonged pandemic, but prayerfully consider gathering in the 10:00 Bible study where there is plenty of room for social distancing and one could slip out before the worship crowd comes in for the 11:00 service.