What is Love? How do we know it, how do we live it?
To understand love we must understand the incarnation. In this act we can find everything we need to know about what real, pure, perfect, unconditional love is
God created love! God is love! God defines love! The Scripture is the story of the definition and demonstration of God’s love. From Adam to Jesus we see the length and depth, and height and width and girth of God’s love
The story of the nation of Israel… this process of God demonstrating what Love is… AND what Loves is NOT… (Kings of Israel)
The fullness of God revealing His love, defining what true love is, happens in the Incarnation, the Messiah, The Christ…Jesus of Nazareth.
We rightly focus on how it was the ultimate sacrifice for God Himself to die on the cross for those He loved. But I am here to tell you this morning, being BORN was just as big a demonstration of love…perhaps a more intense sacrifice for the all powerful Lord of the Universe! The Length of God’s Love In Christ: He was BORN as a human.It took at least as much love to be born into this world as it took to die on the cross. And that kind of love is for us to experience and copy as Christ’s followers.
I hope this look at love gives us encouragement and challenges us to love like Christ.
Let’s start from where Christ was prior to being BORN as a human being.
John 1:1-4 (NIV)
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.
- John using the term ‘The Word’ to depict Jesus Christ
- Biblical Christology: correct understanding of who the 2nd person of the trinity is
- Christ has always existed in community with the Father & Spirit as the triune God
- He was totally involved in every aspect of Creation
- He has always had the special role of the one who would give eternal life
- He has always been the One who would show the way to God for all humanity
- This is what makes Him ‘The Light’: He is going to illuminate God’s Love for us
Philippians 2:6-7 (NLT)
Though He (Christ Jesus) was God, He did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, He gave up his divine privileges; He took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being.
- Being God Himself, Christ did not hesitate to become subordinate to the Father
- He limited His being to become a human
- The ultimate act of humility…the ultimate act of love
- He gave up being God for a 33 years! That is a big deal!
- In love for us He was humbled to be BORN as a human…
Being born as a human God choses to lays down His outside of space & time life. His pre-existant life, His all sovereign life. He laid aside His divinity and was still The Son of God while also The Son of man. This is a profound mystery…something worth spending a lifetime understanding and acting on…we call it Discipleship!
Christ defined love for His disciples on the night before He was crucified
John 15:11-14 (NKJV)
“These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.”
- The things he has spoken of:
- Productive discipleship takes connectivity
- God will guide the process of our growth as disciples
- Experiencing God’s love involves keeping His commands
- The point of this connected, growing obedience to God is that we learn to love
- Christ commands us to love like He loves: sacrificially living for others
To understand the vastness of God’s love we need to understand the lengths that He went to to save those He calls. To begin to know His love we have to see what He laid down to be BORN as a human. To be ‘All-Everything’ and then choose to limit your limitless being so you can save your creation… that has consistently taken advantage of your love… THAT IS LOVE!
Let’s look at the event: Luke chapter 2 begins with a road trip. Luke 1 was big on baby announcements
At That Time… Caesar sent an order that all people in the countries under Roman rule must list their names in a register. (This is projection of power & control). This was the first registration; it was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. (Scripture Cemented in Time) And all went to their own towns to be registered.
Luke 2:4-7 (NCV)
So Joseph left Nazareth, a town in Galilee, and went to the town of Bethlehem in Judea, known as the town of David. Joseph went there because he was from the family of David. Joseph registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was now pregnant. While they were in Bethlehem, the time came for Mary to have the baby, and she gave birth to her first son. Because there were no rooms left in the inn, she wrapped the baby with pieces of cloth and laid him in a feeding trough.
- It’s a four day walk to Bethlehem form Nazareth, pregnant wife on donkey
- They had to register in the location where their family was from
- This fulfilled prophecy about the Messiah (Son of David)
- They were engaged, not married and pregnant… not cool socially
- We sanitize this scene… it was a cave…the feeding trough was cut out of the wall
God being born as one of us…He could have just gone ‘poof’ & become an adult… God personally experiencing being born: Yikes!
Childhood = Dependence. He allowed himself to be dependent on beings that HE created out of His mind & dirt!
But not just the trauma of childbirth, a poor hard situation (travel & accommodations). Total lack of status, essentials and honor from the creation HE entered into…Why did He make it so hard?
So He would be relatable to all mankind.
If He was willing to do that for us, what are we willing to do for HIM?
1st John 3:16 (NIV)
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.
- As followers of Christ we look to Him for everything, HE defines love for us
- He gave us an example in laying down His life on the cross
- But He also gave us an example laying down His divinity and being BORN a man
- So as HIS disciples we do what He did… and we start with our church body
SUMMARY: The Christ BORN is God’s biggest demonstration of His love for humanity, HE is the Light that defines love! Christ BORN as a human is the ultimate condescension, an act of pure love. ~ Condescension is bad human to human… it is a good thing when it’s God to humans! Being BORN, Christ laid down His divinity, His all-everything, His operating outside of space and time as we know it out of love for US! So we can know real love! The completeness of Joy is found in loving like Christ: laying down what you have for others.
How would you explain God’s Love to someone who was curious about it?
How can someone follow a sacrificial God without being sacrificial?
What can you ‘lay down’ this Christmas season to demonstrate love to others?
Colossians 1:15-19 (ESV)
He is the image of the invisible God, the Firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. And He is the head of the body, the church. He is the Beginning, the Firstborn from the dead, that in everything He might be preeminent. For in Him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell…