The 2nd week of Advent is about Love. You would think that a woman who loves Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters’ novels, I would be able to write about love without a problem. Truth is that I have been struggling since Sunday about what to write. How do you narrow down the topic of love?
The Ancient Greeks had the right idea. They had multiple names for Love: Eros (sexual, passionate love – the kind most people who are dating are looking to find), Philia (deep friendship – like “Philadelphia: City of brotherly love”), Ludus (playful love – flirting or catching someone’s eyes and smiling at a private joke), Agape (selfless love – later translated to Caritas, Latin for Charity), Pragma (mature, long-standing love), and Philautia (self-love). Another word I found for love from the Greeks is Storge – parental love.
Maybe this is why I was having a hard time narrowing down this topic.
It’s interesting to me that the 2nd week in Advent asks us to be reminded of Christ’s love for us. John 3:16 says “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.” I have been thinking about this over-used verse. You see it at football games and just about on every Christian bumper sticker. What does it actually say? If we break down each part, we see:
*For God so LOVED the world: Why would God love the world? Well, for starters, he created it. He also created human beings in His image. We bear the likeness of God – how amazing is that? By the way, that’s ALL human beings. Not just ones who claim Christianity, but also those who turn away from it or hate it. He created us in love, with a capacity to love others and he also created us to have a choice to love Him back.
*… that he gave his one and only Son: He GAVE. God gives. God gives freely. He gives so freely that he was willing to give a part of his eternal trinity – the presence of God the Son to the broken down world. Again, WHY would God do that?
*…that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life: This is why. This is the reason why Christ came, lived, died, and rose again from the dead. So that he would conquer death, so that all who believe in him will have eternal life. No strings attached. No earning God’s favor, no waiting to be a better person or maybe if I didn’t do such and such. God wants you as you are, but he wants you to come to him of your own free will. We can only share the message of Christ in love. We cannot and should not beat people over the head with the love of Jesus! It doesn’t work that way.
There is a verse I love from 2 Cor 2:15~
For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.
Notice it doesn’t say “stench.” It’s that beautiful, lingering perfume that makes people say “hmmm… what was that?” or makes people want to know more and stay with you just a little longer. If you are the stench of Christ, you could do more damage that will take more to untangle and undo.
The aroma of Christ comes from living the Gospel – treating others with a self-less love, of serving, of going last in a line and not insisting on first dibs for things. It’s allowing someone to take a parking spot at the mall and not careening in, yelling things with your cross dangling from the rear-view mirror. This is not easy to do – especially with the Christmas mall rush. However, I think it’s in these small, daily things that Christ is revealed to others.
May the amazing LOVE of God’s sacrifice be true for you this week as you look towards celebrating the birth of Christ Jesus.