The theme of “Love” is expressed quite often during the Christmas Season. Church Christmas programs will have titles like, “Love Came Down” or “The Gift of Love.” At Christmas, more than any other time, we talk about the love of God expressed through the gift of Jesus Christ, born to Joseph and Mary, in Bethlehem.

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love freely given

Remembering His love is certainly appropriate, as God’s action of taking on human flesh for the redemption of the world is an expression of love that we often have a hard time believing. It is a love that forgives, heals, restores, redeems, transforms, and delivers. It is a love that breaks every chain, that conquers every sin, and best of all, this love is freely given. We sense the reality of God’s love as we ponder the miracle of the incarnation. As we gaze more at what He has done, it produces, in us, a warm feeling, especially during this Christmas season.

But, the warm feeling is not all that needs to be understood about love, or even Christmas. True love does not just pat us on the back and put an arm around our shoulders, because affirmation is not always what we need most.

true and perfect love

Jesus, the baby born in Bethlehem, God’s gift of Love, grew to be a man, and began to preach a message, “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” True and perfect love does not do what feels good to us, true and perfect love does what is good for us. Jesus came to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. This is the greatest act of love possible.

The first way Christ allows us to experience His truest form of love is to make us aware of our sin. Jesus is the Truth, and His Word is Truth as well. His Truth stands in stark contrast to the lies that characterize our world and our lives. To be aware of the Truth when we are comfortable living in our deception can often be a painful experience…

but exposing us to that truth, no matter how uncomfortable it may be, is the most pure and perfect expression of love.

the loving message of christmas

There is a warm feeling that comes from experiencing love during Christmas to be sure, but we must not equate love with something that only causes good “feelings.” Love is not superficial, and thus, it is not content to simply produce shallow, momentary feelings. Ultimately, love will give us the chance to feel good, by enabling us to become good. Love is deep, profound, transformative, and eternal, and the work of love will always be consistent with those attributes.

In our society, we have confused love with many things. To speak truth, to confront sin, to encourage repentance, to make someone uncomfortable, to not accept, affirm, and celebrate any and every thought, feeling, and expression of another is considered hate. Christmas reminds us that the Gift of Love came not to make us feel good in our sin, but to wage war against our sin. Christmas must shine the light of truth on the horror of our sin, call us to turn away from our sin, and eradicate sin from our lives. This is the reality of love. This is why the Baby came. This is what the Gift of Love is. This is the loving message of Christmas.