Summary: A sermon for the 3rd Sunday in Advent
Hosea 1:2-3, 3:1-5
“Christmas Is Not Your Birthday: Scandalous Love”
Based on a book by Mike Slaughter
I think everyone wants to know that he or she is important to someone.
Remember how kids used to pass notes back and forth in Middle School?
“I like you. Do you like me? Check yes, no, or maybe.”
The reason we want to be liked is because God created us for intimate, authentic relationships.
Sadly, we are all very capable of compromising our most fundamental beliefs in order to be with other people…in order to fit in.
That’s one reason why people stay in abusive relationships.
That’s the number one reason why children turn to drugs and gangs.
Have you ever found yourself thinking: “This is not who I am. I have become comfortably numb”?
It is so hard to “fit in.”
So many of us just feel we are not as good as the rest of humanity.
If we feel this way—we are wrong, but it is so easy to feel this way.
That is one of the main reasons the Church is so important!!!
No matter who you are; no matter how much money you make; no matter what you look like—as a member of Christ’s Church you have just as much say as anyone else.
Your voice is just as important.
Your life is just as precious.
You are part of the family.
You fit in!!!
Because, Jesus Christ and His Church is about the unconditional love of God.
A colleague writes: “Some of us are late bloomers.
When I graduated from high school I was five foot eleven and weighed something like a hundred and twenty pounds.
Someone told me I looked like a fetus wearing Nikes!!!
There was nobody special knocking at my door.”
Have you ever experienced rejection?
All of us will at some point in our lives.
Is it any wonder that we learn early on in life to portray ourselves as being someone other than who we really are and create layers of emotional defenses to protect ourselves from pain?
Worse yet, our self-esteem problems often carry over into our relationship with God.
Most of us have no problem believing in God, but struggle with being secure in God’s belief in us.
Have you ever wondered, “How can God believe in me or love me?”
Remember, it was Adam and Eve who ran and hid from God when God came looking for them, not the other way around!
Christmas is the pronouncement and the celebration that God comes to be with us.
God is the One Who pursues a relationship with us!
Christmas is about God’s love affair with humankind!!!
And an awesome illustration of this comes from, of all places, the Book of Hosea.
The Israelites had become lukewarm in their faith and strayed, as God’s people often do during prosperous times.
Israel had wandered from the Lord, Who had brought them out of slavery and made them God’s own unique covenant people.
It was kind of like Israel was breaking her marriage vows.
And that’s why Hosea compared Israel’s behavior to adultery.
Later, Jesus made a similar analogy when He spoke about our struggle between materialism and faith by basically saying: “You can’t have two lovers! You will always favor one over the other.”
In the Book of Hosea, the Lord said, “Go, take to yourself an adulterous wife and children of unfaithfulness, because the land is guilty of the vilest adultery in departing from the Lord.’
So he married Gomer daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son.”
Can you imagine marrying someone you knew would be unfaithful to you and then spending the rest of your life wondering if your children were really your own?
Who would ever knowingly set themselves up for a life like that?
But, in a sense, this is what God has done with us.
Hosea represents God’s relentless pursuing love, and Gomer, represents you, me and everyone!
We have been created to find life and meaning through our devotion to God, but we so often sell ourselves out to the consumerist materialism of greed.
And this is, perhaps, never more obvious than the way we celebrate Jesus’ birth.
Imagine Gomer saying, “Happy birthday Hosea!
To celebrate your birthday, I’m going to party with my other friends!”
What God wants from us, for Jesus’ birthday and every day, is love demonstrated by how we treat one another and those in need!
Jesus made His feelings on this crystal clear when He said, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me” and “whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.”