Summary: Love as a verb is hard to do but when love becomes an action devoid of emotions we can better understand the gift of Jesus at Christmas.
Show the video "Confused about love."
Let’s begin today by reading John 3:16 “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”
We discussed last week about this act of giving of himself as being the greatest Christmas present we could receive. The passage says that this gift was given because God loved the world so much.
But what did this world look like? The Scriptures tells us that the world was “his enemies, separated from him by --- evil thoughts and actions.” (Col 1:21). That the world’s “sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will” (Romans 8:7). The world asks the question “Who is the Almighty, and why should we obey him? What good will it do us to pray?” (Job 21:15). We are told that the world is filled with “wicked people (who) are born sinners; even from birth they have lied and gone their own way.” (Psalm 58:3-4).
We are reminded that the world is filled with the children of the devil who love to do evil things (John 8:44). And James warns us “that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God--(James 4:4).
So can we agree that this sounds like the world we continue to live in today? And while we may be able to go through a checklist and declare that we are not certainly like that, we must admit we once were. After all Psalms 58 reminds us, we are “born sinners.” And if any doubt remains Paul speaks clearly, when he writes, “For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son”. (Romans 5:10)
We were all the enemies of God, from the moment we were born until we accepted the offer of salvation. The death of Jesus restored for us the friendship of God.
There are two words at play here. God loved the world. The world was his enemy. God so loved his enemy that He gave himself to save them. Let’s try to understand the significance of these two words.
Love, by definition means, “a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person.” Enemy means “a person who feels hatred for, fosters harmful designs against, or engages in antagonistic activities against another.”
Therefore, we can surmise that God felt a profoundly tender, passionate affection for those who felt hatred toward him, plotted against him, and engaged in activities to antagonize him.
Then we hit a snag. In Psalm 5:4-6 we read O God, you take no pleasure in wickedness; you cannot tolerate the sins of the wicked. Therefore, the proud may not stand in your presence, for you hate all who do evil. You will destroy those who tell lies. The Lord detests murderers and deceivers.
And Proverbs 1:24-25 states “I called you so often, but you wouldn’t come. I reached out to you, but you paid no attention. You ignored my advice and rejected the correction I offered. So I will laugh when you are in trouble! I will mock you when disaster overtakes you—when calamity overtakes you like a storm, when disaster engulfs you like a cyclone,
and anguish and distress overwhelm you. “When they cry for help, I will not answer. Though they anxiously search for me, they will not find me.”
Here lies the conflict. Is God a God of love who has affection toward the wicked? On the other hand, is God a God of intolerance when it involves the sins of the wicked? Can He stay true to his nature and be both? Here, like the character in the video, we can get confused about love.
We must understand that God has emotions, as do we. We are created in his image and I believe our emotions come from that creation. God loves; He hates; He grieves; He weeps; He rejoices; He feels acceptance and rejection as we do. So how is it that He can love his enemies? How can He love those that He hates? Understanding that will help us to be more like Jesus.
Jesus said, “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!” (Matthew 5:43-45)
Paul in Romans 5:20 reminds us from the Old Testament “If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.”
Some of you may be thinking, “I defiantly would like to put some burning coals on a particular persons head.” But this was actually intended to turn an enemy into a blessing.