“The most wonderful time of the year!” Reflections of Love. Advent week Four.
“Jesus loves me! This I know
For the Bible tells me so;
Little ones to Him belong;
They are weak, but He is strong.”
Oh, to love and to be loved! In our world full of division and hate, we all crave the unity and understanding that fills our souls with compassion and grace. We can love cookies, our dog, our spouse, or like me - our coffee. There are many types of love. But what does true love look like?
The Oxford dictionary defines love as “an intense feeling of deep affection.” One biblical definition is “sacrificial, a love that gives first and expects nothing in return.” The Greek word for love used in the New Testament is agape. This is the unconditional "Christian love" of the Bible. It means affection, benevolence, goodwill, high esteem and concern for the welfare of the one loved. It is deliberate, purposeful love, rather than emotional or impulsive love.
Cuddling a newborn baby conveys love and security; in return, our hearts are filled with love. Jesus came into the world at Christmas, as a baby, to repair the relationship between God and man that occurred in the original sin of man’s disobedience.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. John 3:16-18 NIV
As a believer, the greatest commandment given to me by Jesus, and reflected in his ministry, is to love God and love others. Unconditionally. Whether I like them or not. Whether I want to or not.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind”. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbour as yourself”. All the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40 NIV
That’s it! Simple, right? But not easy! As a sinful human, I don’t naturally want to love others, especially if I don’t like them very much. I can’t do it in my own strength. But with God’s love working through me, I can prayerfully ask for the supernatural, unconditional love that can only come from God, so that I can love others as Jesus commands.
“By this, all men will know that you are my disciples if you love one another” (John 13:35).
As we reflect on love this week, ask God how you can reach out and show loving-kindness to others. You can also ask God to fill you with the supernatural love you need daily. Love is the greatest of all the virtues on the Advent wreath and encompasses Jesus’ entire purpose for being on earth.
Note: Join me as we continue our reflections on the advent season, Love is the symbolic theme of this fourth week.
Three weeks ago I gave an overview of the history and meaning of advent in our preparation for the Christmas season, the traditional use of the wreath and candles lit each week leading up to Christmas Day.
A time of reflection and rest in a season notoriously wrought with excess, materialism, busyness, and exhaustion.
Week one we reflected on Hope
In week two we reflected on Peace (https://www.kathleenknappwriter.com/post/the-most-wonderful-time-of-the-year-reflections-of-peace-advent-week-two)
That’s it! Simple, right? But not easy! As a sinful human, I don’t naturally want to love others, especially if I don’t like them very much. I can’t do it with my own strength. But with God’s love working through me, I can prayerfully ask for the supernatural, unconditional love that can only come from God, so that I can love others as Jesus commands.