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Advent 4--Love-The Greatest Virtue

I don't recall where I heard the story, but I remember that a missionary was asked by a child to draw a picture of love. The missionary thought for a moment and considered drawing a heart—a well-recognized symbol of love. A heart did not seem to express the kind of love she had come to know as God’s love. She inwardly asked God to inspire her when suddenly she thought of the perfect picture of love and it was the easiest picture to draw. She simply drew a cross.
I may have forgotten where I read that story, but I have never forgotten the wonder of her answer. God’s love for us is so vast, yet it can be communicated in such a modest symbol. In fact, the reason we know this esteemed virtue is because God is the architect of our world and love is the foundation of every cell. Corrupt as we all are by sin, there are hints of love in the most heinous places on earth. Love is the force that holds back God’s wrath.
I love the season of Christmas when I see so much love overflowing in so many places. Like flies to a bright light, the whole world is drawn to release the love that is in their hearts during this season. We offer acts of charity uncommon at other times of the year. The season of Christmas brings out the best and worst about us.
God’s love is the center of the manger scene. Why is this baby sent to us?-because of God’s love. The baby is our hope of salvation. It is the only way that Revelation 21:1-4 can happen:
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.
Some find it hard to see God as loving when they read the Old Testament. Many feel this way without having read the stories, only hearing about them from others. God is love and those who know Him intimately are amazed by His lovingkindness. It is love that continues to reach out to man, who rejects and ignores Him. Man has a hard time loving God back. Rather, we love our will, our beauty, and our intellect. We are so consumed with self-love.
God loves us enough to enter into the suffering that our lack of love for Him causes in our lives. He sent His son to be born as a man, live and die on a cross. The cross has become the truest symbol of God’s love. Regardless of whether we accept God’s love by putting our faith in His plan to redeem man through belief in Jesus—how could He make it simpler to receive His love? He will limit His love to those who accept His gift of salvation through His Son. I pray that you will receive and celebrate the love of God through Jesus this Christmas.
Scripture: Malachi 3:1-5; Romans 8:18-25; Isaiah 52:7-10; Revelation 21:1-4


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