OK -- you have 13 shopping days until Christmas, and I'm not even going to link to the Pawn Shop. That's just too obvious -- and besides: I'll bet you can't get your stuff in time now anyway. CafePress is fine and all that, but their fulfillment runs at about the speed that old men golf. The chatty ones.
Anyway, I had this 6-part series at my blog about Christmas which you'll have to read for yourself if you're interested because this is a blog for original stuff -- not recycled trash. Recycled Spurgeon, maybe -- but not trash. My point is that I took 6 parts to finish that series and I didn't get to say something. I couldn't figure out how to work it in, so I brought it over here. And it works in nicely with Dan's post from yesterday, so it's all gravy -- it's like we planned it.
I was on a bit about how the wrath of God is a sort of necessity in Christmas, and I got to the place where I was saying that we ought to love the incarnate Jesus to the degree that we have been spared the wrath of God -- that this is what Christmas ought to be all about.
So far, so good, right?
Listen: I couldn't figure out how to work in what it means to love the incarnate Christ. is that stupid? So that's the topic here -- loving Christ.
The first thing to say about that is, a real Jesus requires real love. One of the gripes I hear from non-believers (and nearly non-believers -- you know who you are) is that Christians are real emotional and relational clods. We don't really have a lot of emotional range -- we can get indignation out real good, and maybe stoic fortitude, but things like happy, compassionate, friendly in a non-salesman-like way, and all the upside of human emotional pitch seems to be someplace outside our repertoire. And honestly -- they have a small point. Even Bono -- who they might call a believer -- doesn't seem very happy even when he's doing whatever it is he says nobody else is doing.
But here's the thing: while loving Christ produces a real love for people, it must produce a real love and not merely an emotional love for people. Because it must itself be a real love for Christ and not merely a zinger-and-Code-red rush of emotional sugar for Jesus.
You know: Christ died for our sins. He was born and allowed himself to be birthed in a stable -- a cave or a shack -- and slept his first night in the air of
Jerusalem Bethlehem (sorry -- that's what I get for being up late) in a feeding trough. They weren't expecting Him, and they didn't clean up the barn before he showed up -- it was a dirty place in a barn-like sort of way. And Jesus did that in order to die for our sins.
Think about what Christ gave up to then die for our sins. He gave up the throne of Heaven where he was only worshipped for the sake of growing up the son of a carpenter. He gave up having no needs to be was hungry from time to time. He gave up eternal perfection and beauty to smell like a person who didn't have any deodorant ever, and lived among people who were exactly like that. And he loved these people.
He loved them! He loved John the crazy baptizer who, after being thrown in prison, had his doubts about whether Jesus was the Christ, who even asked if he and his disciples should look for another Messiah. He loved Peter, and Peter was quite a pill -- one of those friends who was always making promises and not keeping them. He loved his mother who, even though she saw the angel and gave a virgin birth, doubted that Jesus was sane and pleaded with him to stop what he was doing. He loved Mary who had demons, and Martha who worked too hard, and Lazarus their brother.
Who do we love? I mean besides out spouses and our kids: who do we love in a way that is more than a wish of good luck to that person? Do you love anybody in an active and obvious way?
Would they agree with you that you do this?
Listen: in this way -- this Christmas way -- God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten son. Gave His son! God did something about love at Christmas which people could see and hear and touch with their own hands. And we are called by His name to be a people like that given Son.
So this Christmas, with 13 shopping days left, take your mind off the cookies and the wrapping paper and the fake tree with the lights burned out, and think about the love that is manifest in the baby in the manger. Because that Love is not just a greeting card kind of love, and it's not a cue-the-orchestra kind of emotional state: that love is a working love, a living love which overcomes the world.
Be part of that love. And not just at Christmas, but maybe you could start at Christmas -- like a present to your conscience or something. I don't have any practical suggestions about how to do that because you people are all over the planet. But get off your KBs and pull yourself away from the blogs for a half hour and love someone the way Christ loves you -- that is, in a way which they do not deserve and that you can pay out lavishly.
There is no law against that kind of love.