What is love? Many contemporary Christians may equate love to a feeling, an attraction, or a desire to delve into something interesting. Is love a feeling? That butterfly feeling young couples get when they look at the future and what could be! Is love an action? Loving others as Christ does – that seems appropriate.
Love is more than a feeling (no pun intended). And, it is more than attraction, desire, or even action alone. It is a motive. A motive of the heart.
So, why should we love others? Is it out of the obligatory nature as a Christian to empty one’s own self of time, money, and resources? When asked for money, Peter, a follower of Christ, gave a lame man something that was more powerful than time, money, or resources. He gave him an experience that changed his life in an incredibly powerful way. A hand was extended, love was shown, and the healing power of Jesus was seen by everyone in the street that day as a man lame from birth stood to his feet and began to walk.
Jesus, the heir to heaven, came down to earth and humbled Himself as a baby. The setting was vulnerable and challenging. He was to be born to a virgin who was engaged to be married, but the marriage had not yet taken place. Can you imagine the feelings Joseph had, and Mary too, not knowing exactly all the details of what was to come? Then, with the threat of death by a residing king, Jesus’ parents fled with Him to Egypt so He could be raised in safety in another country. What would cause God to send His Son, Jesus, down to this cruel earth to save us? The answer simply is LOVE. Throughout His life, Jesus experienced trials and tribulations. He was put to death by people who tortured Him, whipped Him, beat Him and treated Him in such cruel ways.
They didn’t deserve the forgiveness He would give, but He gave it anyways. I cannot see any other motive but love. Love is a motive.
So, let me ask you today, what is your motive? What is your heart calling you to do?
Love is selfless. As you look at the world around you, your community, your workplace, your friend group, how is your selfless love being expressed? Are you putting others before yourself? Being selfless means that you are thinking less of yourself and more about those around you. When God shows you a need in the world, He then shows you how to meet it.
At this Christmas season, allow me to take you to the campus of the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) and show you what love looks like in real, tangible and compassionate ways…
This past semester, seven friends and I provided a week of home-cooked meals for three students at BCIT. They were each living below the poverty line. The love of Christ on campus this year was expressed by helping to reduce stress levels in students’ lives everyday by providing warm, home-cooked meals. They were prepared and served with love because Jesus was at the centre of what we did. Our motives were pure, and we required nothing in return.
Each year, societal norms of overspending at Christmas consume the lives of many. Sadly, at the start of a new year depression sets in for many as they struggle to try to manage financially. Poverty becomes a reality for some, and landfill sites fill up quickly with things that weren’t necessities in life. My family is huge on Christmas, where we almost compete to give the best gifts. But– to what end? To quote Solomon, son of King David, “Everything is meaningless” (Ecclesiastes 1). Do material things bring joy? As a modern nation, have we twisted the gospel about the Wise Men giving gifts to Jesus in the nativity scene? Have we commercialized the gospel and turned it into something that it is not? Perhaps. This Christmas let’s consider how we can put Jesus at the centre of our living room instead of how many gifts are under our tree? Let’s add up the ways we are worshipping the Christ child instead of adding up the dollars spent on things – only to see them returned, broken, or put into a pile after the holiday season is over.
Let’s be on mission to see love expressed as we take Jesus and the good news of the gospel to others this Christmas season, and all the year through. Let’s love others as they were intended to be loved.
Advent reflections shared by Josh Tamblyn, a University Christian Ministries (UCM) campus worker with Mission Canada.