The Love Candle
16 God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him won’t perish but will have eternal life. 17 God didn’t send his Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him isn’t judged; whoever doesn’t believe in him is already judged, because they don’t believe in the name of God’s only Son. 19 “This is the basis for judgment: The light came into the world, and people loved darkness more than the light, for their actions are evil. 20 All who do wicked things hate the light and don’t come to the light for fear that their actions will be exposed to the light. 21 Whoever does the truth comes to the light so that it can be seen that their actions were done in God.”
One of the most famous passages in the Bible is found in John 3 and describes the purpose of the Incarnation as an expression of God’s love. In this passage Jesus’ work is not about “saving sinners” or “conquering death” other passages make those points clear. Here Jesus comes as simply an outpouring of God’s love for creation. The truth of the Christian message is not found in the fact that God exists, God’s existence is not what makes the message of Jesus compelling. The truth of the Christian claim is measured in the reality that God loves us and desires to be in relationship with us. The message of Jesus is that no matter what I or any other person has done or might think, God is still entering our lives to show us love. If this is true nothing else matters and if this is false, nothing else matters.
The difficulty is that it can be difficult for us to understand this love, accept this love, and spread this love. The Church is often guilty of laying burdens on people, telling them they must maintain holiness to be accepted by God. This is not true and violates the nature of God’s love for us; God does not necessitate anything from us, God simply gives. God’s love is not a bland emotional feeling, but a self-giving commitment toward our best interests. What an amazing reality to experience that God is endeavoring to experience a self-sacrificial relationship with me. There is only one proper response to hearing this invitation and that is to enter such a relationship with the creator of the universe. Entering this relationship means expressing the same love God has for us. Our commitment to righteousness is not then some kind of payment to God but an expression of love for God; we are not holy because we must, we are holy because we want to express love. Accepting Jesus as the incarnate God means we accept the world is best motivated by love and that we need to be motivated by love.
O Wellspring of Love, as Advent concludes, and your arrival grows imminent I pray you would wash me, so I may be pure, grant that my whole life might be purified by your presence, and that through me your Love might flow into those around me, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen