Finding Christmas: Choosing Love Over Like

In Love With Like

Perhaps one of the most unnerving things about Jesus is His love for enemies, for haters, for evildoers . . for those who live a life that symbolizes all-things opposite of the Kingdom of Light.

Why am I personally unnerved by this?

When you put my life, my deeds, my preferences my priorities alongside the life of Christ I am easily exposed as a “Christian” who is in love with the things I like and often spiritually bankrupt to do little more (if even that) than like the things (for a limited time) I am called to love.

You could even say that I, like millions of other “Christians”, have at times been easily drawn to religious enterprise that does just the same. Oh sure, they talk a good game and touch the poor, the imprisoned, the addicted for a few moments, but listen to how their leaders bash and minimize those who oppose some or all of their ministry practices or personal priorities and values. When churches become little more than country clubs for those who are in love with “like” and “being liked”, it becomes all too easy to dismiss, judge, undermine and slander anything and anyone who is different, flawed or vulnerable. When we become obsessed with campaigning for acceptance under the guise of church and Christian ministry, we have little energy or time left for the least, the lost . . especially for those who are our enemies.

The world of Christmas 2015

is full of enemies on a global scale . . peace (in terms of external events) is in short supply. But dismiss the headlines for a few moments and realize that what is playing out on the grand scale of wars, ethnic clashes and terrorism is simply just an extension of life for all of us at our own ground zero. There is no such thing as even one human relationship free of conflict, hurt and anger. Human nature universally has always distanced itself from the difficult, the unresolved, the dangerous and barricaded itself with layer after layer of self-serving “like”. We do this in our families, our friendships, out workplaces and in our neighborhoods . . and at no time of year is it more evident that we are in love with “like” than at Christmas . . and we don’t even blink at the thought of branding ourselves as “Christian”.

While we may do anything and everything to barricade our quest for “happy ever after” from problem people and circumstances “out there”, the haunting reality is that it is impossible in our own strength and ingenuity to escape the terrorist within.

Scripture’s description of the plight of our soul and our spiritual standing with God . .

Once you were alienated from God
and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.

Colossians 1:21

Way Past “Like”

Modern day culture has concluded that God is at war with us, but the truth of God’s word reminds us that we are at war with God. We are the ones who rebelled and chose our own path. Until we come to the place where we realize individually that if no one else ever lived on this planet, our spiritual condition alone was cause enough for Christmas . . specifically the Christ of Christmas  . . to come (not condemn) . . and inconveniently come a long ways . . to offer His love, His light, His eternal life.

And come He did . . in fact, no coincidence that His birth in Bethlehem was announced to the least, the outsiders, the blue-collar guys with no influence and no chance of ever making Time or People magazine’s Man of the Year. When the angel army surrounded a handful of nobody shepherds with a rousing chorus of “peace on earth, good will to all men”, a pattern was set in motion that the Christ would go way past “like” and incur the deep cost of loving the least and the lost.

John Lewis, a British retailer, perhaps understands what the real Christmas is better than most . .

When Hate Is Strong

It would be the Apostle Paul who may have best summarized the death-destroying peace-securing life of Christ with these words in his letter to Christmas-finders in Rome,
For if, while we were God’s enemies,
we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son . .
while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.
 
Now it is an extraordinary thing for one to willingly give his life
even for an upright man, though perhaps for a good man . .
but God clearly shows and proves His own love for us,
by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us . .

how much more, having been reconciled,
shall we be saved through his life!

We are certainly not the first generation to feel as though peace and the Prince of Peace are drowning in senseless violence and conflict. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow knew first-hand the ravages of an America torn by civil war. Shortly after losing his wife Frances in a horrific fire and learning that his son Charles was seriously wounded in combat, Longfellow recalled that marvelous angelic announcement just outside Bethlehem and composed the precursor poem to “I Heard The Bells on Christmas Day”, penning these words of both realism and much needed hope,

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong,And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men.”

The Impossible Command

Wadsworth knew what we still know today . . Christ and Christmas are alive . . but finding Christmas is a whole different matter for again, it can only be found at great cost. In Christ’s own words proclaimed in the Sermon on the Mount,

 

If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?
Are not even the tax collectors doing that?
And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others?
Do not even pagans do that?
Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

 

Perfect? Perfect?

Again it would be Paul who perhaps best echoed this impossible command of Christ,

 

Therefore become imitators of God as well-beloved children
and walk continually in love just as Christ also loved you
and gave Himself up for us,
an offering and sacrifice to God.
– Ephesians 5:1-2 – 

 

Imitate?

Religion thinks people can imitate, replicate . . even clone the life of Christ . . but God Himself is in staunch disagreement. The gift of Christmas was not simply a model life to be emulated (though many have tried) after receiving a mercy-laden right standing with a holy God (Romans 5:1-2) – that will only get you as far as you can “like”. The gift of Christmas is that Christmas can be alive in you and me if we are humble enough to to say yes to God’s love and supernatural indwelling presence. The promise of Romans 5:5 is waiting today to be claimed by any and all ..

God’s love has been abundantly poured out within our hearts
through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
Finding Christmas means finding a Savior who first went to unthinkable lengths to find you. But make no mistake . . for today, as it was 2,000 years ago . . one can only find Christmas . . and point others to it . . if they are willing to first choose . . love over like.

Light Our Way by Leigh Haggerwood and The Florin Street Band

Love will light our way.
Love will never fade;
However hard
The path we walk
Love remains.

When hopes and dreams seem far
Love’s a guiding star;
When all seems lost
And everything is dark
It lights our way.

Love, love is golden.
It shines in you and me.
May our hearts always be open
And light the skies between
You and me.
(Love will light our way x 3)

Although the winds may change
And sorrow sometimes reigns.
Well like the stars above;
Our never ending love
Will never fade.
(No, it’s forever and forever)

No never
(Love, it can bring us together)

‘Cause love, love is golden
It shines in you and me.
It’s so bright, a divine emotion –
A treasure we can give
And receive.

Love will light our way.
Love will always stay
Within our hearts
And never fade.
(No, it’s forever and forever.
It brings us together.)

Love

May our hearts always be open
‘Cause love’s a treasure
That will always shine
In you and me

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About the author : David "JB" Miller

David

David "JB" Miller is founder and author at LifeLetter Ministries. He and his wife Cheri make their home in beautiful Temecula, California and have six children and six grandchildren they absolutely adore.

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