A Revolutionary Love

“‘But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.’” -Luke 6:27-28 (NIV)

When we have been the victim of injustice and insult, the command to love our enemies seems ludicrous. Human Google+Phototendency is to seek retribution for wrongs through our own wisdom and might. If someone strikes us, our instant reaction is to strike them ten times as hard. If we have become the subject of torment and ridicule, our most treasured desire is the day when we can inflict the same misery upon our oppressors. Yet this is how the cycle of hatred and violence begins; by a simple yearning to get even. The moment we let vengeance to invade our hearts, we will be consumed by an insatiable rage. Revenge will distort our image of people and propel us to take pleasure in committing horrible acts that we thought we would never carry out. Though we may think that we are able to master these unbridled emotions, in actuality we become slaves to our hate and bitterness.

Our unwillingness to love our enemies and to do good to those who hate us often stems from the misconception that to do so is a sign of timidity and weakness, along with an acceptance of the wrongs that have been exacted upon us. But this is far from the truth. Christ never acknowledged that the injustices committed against Him were inherently virtuous. While suffering on the cross He cried out to God in Luke 23:24, “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Yet while He was omnipotent and could have easily overpowered His persecutors, He loved them. Redemption and restoration would not come through violence, but by a love that has no earthly parallel.

Christ went to the cross for the Pharisees who accused Him, for the soldiers who clubbed and tortured Him, for men who nailed Him, and for the crowd who hurled insult after insult while He endured the agony of crucifixion. He did this so that through His death and resurrection they may no longer be slaves to wickedness, but free under His righteousness. As children of Christ we are called to emulate the selfless love shown by Him. But as long as we have made vengeance and hatred our idol, we will never be capable of displaying this love. Only when we have allowed Christ to invade our hearts and have submitted ourselves to His Spirit will His love overflow from our lives. His sweetness is more effective than any weapon and when we make that choice to have it made manifest in ourselves, it will bear witness to those around us of the beauty and freedom that is available through the power of Christ.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

A Day of Giving

“If one of your countrymen becomes poor and is unable to support himself among you, help him as you would an alien or a temporary resident, so he can continue to live among you.” -Leviticus 25:35 (NIV)

In certain countries within the British Commonwealth, the tradition of Boxing Day remains strong. Falling on the Google+Photoday after Christmas, it is presently known as a day where people throng department stores in order to take advantage of great sales that only come once a year However, this was far from its intended purpose. Instead of acquiring more possessions, the day was focused on addressing the needs of the poor. Families would make gift boxes and pack food, toys, and clothes in order that they may be distributed to those who did not have the luxury of obtaining these things. Alms boxes would be placed in churches where congregants would donate money to be divided amongst the needy in their midst. Wealthy landlords would give their household servants bonuses, gifts, and the opportunity to visit their families as an act of gratitude for their hard work.

It is tempting to become self-absorbed during the Christmas season. With all the celebrations, gifts, and presents, it is easy to simply bask in the blessings of possessing material wealth. In all these things however, God has called His children to consider the poor. To aid the destitute is mandated in Scripture and is close to the heart of God for He has created all in His image. But we are mistaken if we think we can fulfill this mandate on our own strength and capabilities. Human tendency is to be selfish and to seek ways to glorify the self, even in our charity. Only when we have allowed the Spirit of Christ to conduct His redemptive work in our lives and yield our selfishness to Him, will He fill us with His selfless love. When we do this, we will be fulfilling His mandate not because of any counterfeit benevolence of our own, but solely by the love and compassion of Christ overflowing from within us. By allowing our hearts to be molded by Him, our ears will be open to His voice and He will move us to act with genuine concern towards those around us; bearing witness to who He is and what He intends to do for all of humanity.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

This is Christmas!

“But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.’” -Luke 2:10-11 (NIV)

One of my favorite Christmas songs is “Mary Did You Know?”, written by Mark Lowry. In this song, the tender Google+Photomoment of Mary holding the newborn Jesus is placed into perspective in light of who He is and is destined to be. His mission to redeem humanity from sin is illustrated in the final line of the first verse; “This child that you’ve delivered, will soon deliver you.”, and concludes with a powerful line describing His divine nature; “This sleeping child you’re holding, is the Great I Am.” The entire song essentially summarizes why every year Christians all over the world take great joy and celebration on this day. It marks the entrance of hope into a world of darkness; the hope that through Christ will come man’s deliverance from sin and despair.

What is the true meaning of Christmas? Over two thousand years later, it has become saturated by an excessive consumerism; exploited by those who are obsessed with gaining wealth and prestige. Yet while we know that this rampant materialism has failed to attach meaning to Christmas, we try to find its meaning elsewhere. One place is in the warmth and joy spent with family and friends. But though this is important and good, it is not the reason why Christmas is celebrated. We may even pay a nominal acceptance of the fact that it is about Christ and erect our Nativity scenes depicting baby Jesus. However, unless we have gone beyond the image of the infant Christ, have understood the true purpose of His coming down to Earth, and have personally allowed His Spirit to carry out His restorative work in our lives, the celebrations of Christmas hold no meaning. To truly celebrate Christmas is to dwell in the joy of knowing that on this day our Savior, Jesus Christ was born. In His infinite love He had one sole purpose; to save humanity through His death and to give us life through His resurrection. Outside of Christ there can be no other meaning to Christmas. No other substitute will be able to match the glory of Christ’s entry into the world, and the implications it has for all mankind.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.