Advent Conspiracy: Love All

The tree was up on time, the house was decorated, the candlelight service was beautiful, and the kids loved their presents; Christmas (despite all the stress) went well this year.  But now it’s time to take the decorations down and finish those leftovers from Christmas dinner.  It’s time to go back to work and get back into the everyday routine.

So what was the point of all the fuss of Christmas if we just go back to the way things were before?

Of course, we know that Christmas is a celebration of Christ’s birth and also of the sacrifice He made for us on the cross.  Christmas is a time to give thanks to God for sending His only son to take our place as the ultimate sacrifice.  Christmas is a time to celebrate God’s love.

So why does the end of the Advent Season feel like such a letdown?  Is it because the lights and decorations come down?  Or because we have to go back to work and school?

The lights, decorations, and time off are wonderful things that allow us a little more breathing room and perspective to think about God’s gift of Jesus, but the truth is that God’s love for us was there before we put up the lights, decorated the tree, and sang hymns while holding candles.  God has loved us since before the beginning of time, and He planned the miracle of sending Jesus to take our place long before we were around.  What’s even more awesome about God’s love for us is that He wants us to pass the love on and share it with everyone.  Colossians 3:12-15 says:

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.  Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.”

“And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”

Paul gives a us a list of virtues we should strive for as Christians, but then he highlights the importance of love above all the others.  Love is what binds the other virtues together in perfect unity.  God’s loving sacrifice of His son is what allows us to be unified with Him for eternity; therefore, Paul writes love is the most important virtue for us to have.

Love is somewhat of an abstract concept that our culture celebrates with hearts and cute cards and messages, but the love of God is different.  God’s love is sacrificial; He gave up His only son for us so that we could be saved.  How do we model this kind of love?  We don’t have the ability to save others the way God saved us.  But we do have the ability to sacrifice of ourselves for other people.

The list of virtues Paul gives us in verses 12-13 is a sacrificial list.  We show compassion, we model kindness, we live in humility, we exhibit gentleness, we walk patiently, and we extend forgiveness.  To exhibit each one of these virtues we have to give up something else.  To forgive we have to sacrifice our pride.  To be kind we often have to give up our comfort for the sake of someone else.  To be compassionate we usually sacrifice our time and our resources for a person in need.  When we are willing to sacrifice our time, resources, comfort, etc. for another person then we are modeling God’s sacrificial love for us.  Our willingness to sacrifice for others is the love that binds the other virtues together, and it is how we love all people.

So, as the decorations go back into the attic and the pastor returns to the pre-Christmas sermons series, we don’t have to feel that post-holiday letdown.  God’s love for us exists year-round, not just during Christmas season. 

As we get back into our everyday routines and busy lives, we don’t have to feel sad or disappointed about the end of the Advent season.  We can celebrate God’s loving gift of Jesus year-round, and we can take God’s love a step further and share it with each person we meet through sacrificing of ourselves by exhibiting compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, and forgiveness.