Monthly Archives: December 2008

Love Multiplies

Love Multiplies

Blind Faith  (No. 52, 2008)

Fourth Sunday of Advent, December 21, 2008

Love

        Christmas is the ultimate love story.  Entertaining stories and fantasies may be cheerfully constructed about snowmen, reindeer, elves, and a host of jolly, generous benefactors.  Such creations offer warm sentiment and frolicking fun, but they fall short of the unfathomable depth of love that is the core of the true, genuine Christmas story of the birth of Jesus.

        Much of this devotional was constructed as we drove to Chattanooga to pick up our son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter at the airport.  We love both our sons.  We love our daughter-in-law as the daughter we always wanted, but did not have born to us.  But our granddaughter … there is love incarnate.  The airport stop is en route to a Christmas gathering of almost my entire extended family.  One nephew, along with his wife and children, will not be able to travel from California to attend.  Four generations will be there to enjoy a rare family lovefest.  My brother and sisters and I were given remarkable, consistent, formative love from our parents.  Sherron and I brought strong legacies of love from our families of origin to our marriage.  (We celebrated our 33rd wedding anniversary at the family gathering.)  We gave our love to our sons, cherishing each moment of their growth and maturity.  We have celebrated with our son the transformative love he and his wife share with one another.  Everyone in the preceding generations shower our granddaughter with joyous, hopeful love.

At each turn of the generations, love is multiplied.  Genuine love is never divided.  Love that is fully shared never is diminished by extending it to one more loved one.  Love always multiplies, so that extending love’s reach renews the quantity of love ready to express to another. 

God, whose most concise description is, “God is love,” is the source of the multiplication principle of love. Thinking about the story of the birth of Jesus in the context of God’s love helps to clarify the multiplying nature of love.  John, the “beloved apostle,” both in the gospel and the letters he wrote sets love at the center of the story.  Each time you read love in these Bible verses, think of God’s presence in the young family giving birth to baby Jesus on the first Christmas, and how that expression of love has power to change your life.  Think, too, of how God’s love can multiply in your life so that you can demonstrate love to others, who can then see God’s love transform their lives.  Love always multiplies.  Here is John’s love story of Christmas:

      The Father has loved us so much that we are called children of God. And we really are his children….

      {4:7} Dear friends, we should love each other, because love comes from God. Everyone who loves has become God’s child and knows God. {8} Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

      {9} This is how God showed his love to us: He sent his one and only Son into the world so that we could have life through him. {10} This is what real love is: It is not our love for God; it is God’s love for us in sending his Son to be the way to take away our sins. {11} Dear friends, if God loved us that much we also should love each other. {12} No one has ever seen God, but if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is made perfect in us.

      {14} We have seen and can testify that the Father sent his Son to be the Savior of the world…. {16} And so we know the love that God has for us, and we trust that love. God is love. Those who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.

      {19} We love because God first loved us. {20} If people say, "I love God," but hate their brothers or sisters, they are liars. Those who do not love their brothers and sisters, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have never seen. {21} And God gave us this command: Those who love God must also love their brothers and sisters. (1 John 3:1a; 4:7-12, 14, 16, 19-21 NCV)

       

      [Jesus said:]"God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son so that whoever believes in him may not be lost, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 NC)

    “God loved … God gave.”  God’s love constantly multiplies as we give gifts to one another, but especially as we give ourselves to one another.  Love is multiplied to its greatest factor when we give the genuine article – God’s love expressed in Jesus Christ.

    As you give Christmas gifts to one another, remember that the love expressed by the present is the greatest gift.  Remember with each gift you unwrap or deliver to someone that these represent God’s gift of his Son, Jesus, to us, so that we might truly live.  Share God’s love explicitly with your family and friends as you gather for Christmas.  Watch how amazingly love will multiply, so that your celebration of Christmas overflows with hope, peace, joy, and love.

    This is the reason for the season of Christmas.  Merry Christmas, and God bless you, one and all.

    – J. Edward Culpepper, Ph.D.