But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.

Titus 3v4-7

It’s almost Christmas Day. In fact, it’s so close that it is Christmas Eve Eve. Carols are being sung and turkeys are being prepared. All over the land, families, friends and communities are coming together to celebrate the festive season.

What is it that drives all these celebrations? Why do we drive for hours to see those people who are special to us? One word… LOVE! You probably think I’m talking about the kind of sappy romance that is sold to us in Christmas films. For a lot of people, it is a combination of a desire to find that sort of love and cultural obligation that motivates their Christmas. After all, the idea of gathering around a table with all the people you love is something we can all aspire to.

But there is a different kind of love that is even more important. This is the love that motivated the original Christmas. It is also what underpins Paul’s message to Titus in the short Bible passage at the start of this post. This isn’t a sappy love that culminates with a kiss under the mistletoe or a feel-good film with a glowing kitchen scene.

Instead, God’s love is demonstrated through how He saved us. Twice God made sacrifices in order to save us. He gave up everything that He had to come down to earth as a tiny, loudly crying (whatever the carols say), baby in order to be with us. More than that, roughly 30 years later Jesus died on a cross, He paid the price for all our sins. Every single thing that would ever keep us separate from God Jesus removed.

God’s mercy and grace. Our renewal by the Holy Spirit. Having the hope of eternal life. All of these come out of God’s love for us. Even our salvation is a result of God’s love.

So this Christmas, let’s make a pact to stop choosing the love of Christmas films and TV adverts. Instead, we will choose to embrace the love that God demonstrated to us through a manger and a cross.

Love || Fourth Advent Sunday