Love Is All You Need

This morning in church, Pastor Steve spoke about love, and it has been resounding through me again and again. It got me thinking about the fact that love is something we are sorely lacking in our world today. We’ve become a society that doesn’t understand what real love is, believing instead in the lie that love is the same thing as lust and greed and selfishness.

Love isn’t about getting what we want; love is about sacrifice. It’s about selflessness, generosity, and truly caring about others with no expectation of anything in return. “We know what real love is because Jesus gave up His life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives [our treasures, those things we hold most dear] for our brothers and sisters” (1 John 3:16, NLT [with my additions]). Instead of the world’s definition of love, where we care about someone mostly because they care for us in return or they can help us or they are attractive, God says that love is about putting others first without ever considering how it will affect us.

As the Beatles once sang, “All you need is love. Love is all you need.” According to the Bible, this is pretty accurate. Look at the opening verses of 1 Corinthians 13: “If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would be only a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3, NLT). You could be a huge success according to the world, but without love, it is all meaningless.

The Beatles spoke true: we do need love, but only if it is godly love. And how do we achieve that kind of love? According to the Apostle Paul, we study the Word, since, “The purpose of [his] instruction is that all believers would be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and a genuine faith” (1 Timothy 1:5, NLT). The more we plant His Word deep in our hearts, the more we meditate on His Word, the more we come to know Him, the more we push out the worldly ways and mold ourselves into those who can love like Christ, those who can give love to others even knowing that we may never have anything in return.

If all the people in His Creation could learn to live like this, can you imagine the beauty and joy and peace and hope and, of course, love we would see every moment of every day? This is my prayer for you and for me: that we learn to love like Christ.

A Season of Love

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One of my favorite Christmas songs is “I Celebrate the Day” by Relient K. This touching and powerful song culminates with the statement: “I celebrate the day that You were born to die, so I could one day pray for You to save my life.” Wow! That is such a huge deal and so overwhelming to think about—Jesus chose to come to earth, to be born as both wholly man and wholly God; to go from being at the right hand of God to laying in a dirty, smelly manger; to be a helpless baby, a child who worried his earthly parents, a teenager (yikes!), and an adult in a world where nothing comes easy, especially if you’re different; to be falsely accused, tortured, beaten, and crucified; to be physically and spiritually separated from God and have the Father’s wrath poured upon Him; then to rise in glory. And why did He do this? Because of His LOVE for us! 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 (1 John 4:9).

God loves us so much that He sent His only Son that whoever would believe in Him would have everlasting life (John 3:16). That is what we are celebrating when we gather around the Christmas tree and exchange gifts: the gift of God’s agape, unconditional, unmerited LOVE for each and every one of us.

So on this fourth week of Advent, light the first three candles, as well as the last purple candle, known as the “Angel’s Candle,” for the angels announced the good news of the Messiah’s birth, or the “Candle of LOVE.” Read and reflect on the following verses:

Isaiah 52:7-10

Luke 19:10

Romans 8:18-25

Isaiah 53:5-6

Revelation 21:1-4

God loved us before the foundations of the world; He loves us today; He will love us for all eternity. There is nothing more powerful or beautiful than God’s love for His children. Hallelujah!

God’s gift to us, the ultimate gift, was His only Son, who was born to die to pay for our sins. We can never give God a better gift than He gave us, but what can you give to Him? What present will you put under the tree for God? Will you give Him your time? Your love? Your heart? Your talents? Your passions? Your devotion? Your path? Your job? Your family? Your health? What is that you prize? That is what you should give to Him.

Pray: Father God, I don’t know why You looked down from the highest heaven, saw me in all my wretchedness, and still decided that You loved me enough to be born of man to die for me, but I am so grateful You did. Thank You for loving me when I was dead in my trespasses and blackened by sin and for continuing to love me when I stumble even now. Thank You for the future hope I have in Christ. When I feel discouraged, help me to remember that You will wipe away every tear. Help me, Lord, to reflect Your love onto those around me. Use me as a light of Your love to brighten the darkness in this world. And help me to never take for granted Your love or the incredible gift you have given to me. In Your Name we pray, Jesus. Amen.

Have a blessed Christmas Eve! And if you happen to be in the Colona, Colorado, area, please join us this evening at 5 pm for our Candlelight Service. We will read the Christmas story and sing hymns to celebrate the birth of Jesus in our beautiful, historic little church. All are welcome!