DAY 14: Love
Scripture: 1 John 4:9
When I was younger, I thought I knew what love was. Love was effortless, it made you feel good, it meant never having to say you’re sorry and being perfectly compatible. I didn’t just apply this concept to my romantic hopes and dreams, I cast it onto my friendships too. If a relationship was too hard or took too much work, I tended to pull away. If it weren’t for God’s mercy and discipline in my life, I would only have dysfunctional relationships to show for myself. Thankfully, in His goodness He has revealed His love to me, which changes every notion I held about love.
The love story of Jesus’ coming is not one of effortless make-you-feel-warm-and-fuzzy “love.” This story, which began to unfold in a manger, makes no sense unless we accept the magnitude of His love as the very foundation. Why else would Jesus sacrifice heaven for earth, glory for mockery, perfection for pain?
In 1 John we find an abundance of teaching about what real love is. Real love, love from God, looks like no other love because it is utterly and wholly perfect.
Perfect love means sacrifice, the sacrifice of God’s Son so that we might have life through salvation (1 John 4:9). Perfect love changes our standing as rebellious sinners and makes us children of God (1 John 3:1). Perfect love transforms us as we abide in God and He in us, we become like Him and stand confidently before Him even on the day of judgment. Perfect love casts out fear, assuring us that the Light has overcome the darkness forever (1 John 4:18 and John 1:5). Real love forgives, and even when our own heart condemns us the love of God reminds us that we have have been forgiven by Christ’s atoning sacrifice once and for all (Hebrews 10:10). Only the perfect love of the Father can absorb all hurt, redeem all pain and cast out all fear forever.
God’s love for us doesn’t pass any test of compatibility, not by any stretch of the imagination! We are ungrateful, prideful and forgetful creatures who spend much of our time making demands and filing complaints with our Creator. We couldn’t be less compatible for God’s love if we tried, but He loves us still. He doesn’t love the idea of us or the way we make Him feel, He doesn’t love what we might become. He loves us as we are, where we are (Romans 5:8). We are known, loved and accepted because of who God is and what He has done for us. And now because we have been so lavishly loved (1 John 3:1), we can go out and love the world. We are sons and daughters, alive, free and commissioned for a holy purpose (1 John 4:9-11, Matthew 28:16-20).
Looking for more Advent? Find all of the devotions HERE.