People are generally only capable of treating others as a reflection of how they’ve been treated. From childhood, in marriage – directly and vicariously (through watching others, reading books). As God’s creation, we have been shown a deep and profound demonstration of love in the arrival of Jesus (1 John 4:9-19). But it wasn’t just at that moment, but in the garden, in the tabernacle, in the temple, and through the prophets, God had been seeking to dwell with his creation – not for the sake of being a punitive cop or nagging reprimand of our failures, but so that we could see Him and follow Him so we can experience the life He created us to live. It culminates in the arrival of God in the flesh, in Jesus, he “moved into the neighborhood” (MSG), and the Greek word is “dwell” in the NIV, which is the same word for ‘tabernacle’. Today, we don’t just celebrate that he dwelled with us, but he dwells in us. To show us life. To bring us to Him. There is an invitation to receive the love he’s pouring out – whether you’re a Christian or not, God is showcasing His love by sending his son, and just like any gift, the fullness of experiencing that gift isn’t just recognizing it, or noticing it, but opening it up and living in it, putting it on, experiencing it. For Christians, we’re loved deeply and perfectly and this propels our love for others in a way that echoes the self-sacrificial love God demonstrated for us in sending His son.
- Receive the gift. And open it. Don’t just admire it. Like a truck I leave on my driveway and never use, or diamond earrings a girl gets but never wears. The fullness of experiencing the gift is in putting it on.
- Be loving to others in the same way Christ loved us – self-sacrificial. Other-focused. This is impossible without the Holy Spirit’s help, which Paul says is the chief gift the HS bestows (1 Cor 13).