Christmas is not about love. It is not about our current American concept of love. It is interesting that the English word love is translated by several different Greek and Hebrews words. It is interesting that each of these words actually speaks about relational differences. Christmas is about more than our common cultural definition of love.
I am reminded just about every week our of culture’s definition of love that describes the emotional side of love. It seems that many that I encounter have a self focused emotional perspective. Love in our culture primarily is defined as how I feel or want I want. Yet this use of love is the exact opposite of the Biblical love demonstrated on the very first Christmas. It was an other-centered love that does what is best for another regardless of the personal cost. We see this in the well known verse, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) Here, the other-centered nature of God’s “agape” love for humanity is reflected. It is this love that is at the center of that first Christmas. God fulfilling prophecies concerning the promised Messiah who would become the bridge to a relationship with God. It is this love the Jesus built his early ministry upon. And He indicated that is was a primary task for all His followers.
I confess that my title is an attention getter. My goal was to challenge us to think about what Christmas it is really about. Christmas is many things to many people. It is about gifts for most people. There are also those that enjoy the decorations, festivities and the get together event. Christmas is a family time for others. And there is nothing wrong with any of these aspects of Christmas. The danger for those committed to Jesus is that we can become distracted, and sometimes get discouraged, with the extras and miss the core opportunity to share God’s love during this time of the year.
Let me encourage you to pour out other centered love at this wonderful time of the year in meaningful ways. Yes, this is a soap box of mine. It is during the extra stress of the season that simple acts of kindness and other-centeredness stand out like neon lights. Letting others “steal” your parking spot because they are in hurry. Holding the door for those behind you. Maybe paying for a person’s order at your favor coffee place. We can also make a difference by having the right attitude. This involves giving ourselves plenty of time for tasks. It also requires that we lower our expectations so that we can focus on people.
This is a wonderful time of the year. Let us be the star that brings God’s love to those around us.
-Pastor Joe Parkinson