by Christine Sine
Who is your favourite New Testament figure? Mine is the apostle John and he is one I think a lot about at this time of year. The transformation that occurs in him throughout the gospel story is remarkable. We are introduced to him as a son of thunder, but in the end, he becomes the apostle of love. He is transformed by the example and love of Christ and that gives me more hope than anything else I read about in the gospel story.
I think we often forget about this radical transformation that seems to have occurred in his character and one of our few clues to that transformation is our knowledge that he was “the disciple that Jesus dearly loved” (John 13:23). It’s one of those almost throw away lines that holds so much meaning. Because he was dearly loved by Jesus, he could be transformed. In 1 John 4:11, John himself calls us “delightfully loved ones” (TPT) and I wonder if as he says that he is fondly remembering his own transformative journey and the love of Jesus that made it possible. In my head, I hear John saying: “You are all dearly loved disciples of Jesus and are all capable of that same transformation.” What a hope-filled message this season of Advent holds for us.
As we look towards the birth of Christ this year, it seems as though we all need to think long and hard about the radical transformation into apostles of love that God still wants to bring about in our lives and our world. The possibilities are so remarkable, and so hope-giving. This year has uncovered so much hate and so much chaos. Yet, transformation is possible. The seeds of Christ’s love planted within us can be birthed and grown.
7 Those who are loved by God, let his love continually pour from you to one another, because God is love. Everyone who loves is fathered by God and experiences an intimate knowledge of him. 8 The one who doesn’t love has yet to know God, for God is love. 9 The light of God’s love shined within us when he sent his matchless Son into the world so that we might live through him. 10 This is love: He loved us long before we loved him. It was his love, not ours. He proved it by sending his Son to be the pleasing sacrificial offering to take away our sins.
11 Delightfully loved ones, if he loved us with such tremendous love, then “loving one another” should be our way of life! 12 No one has ever gazed upon the fullness of God’s splendor. But if we love one another, God makes his permanent home in us, and we make our permanent home in him, and his love is brought to its full expression in us. (1 John 4:7-12 TPT)
I am constantly awed by the depth of God’s love, never more obvious than at this season. It is now that we are invited to enter fully into the love of God as we celebrate the birth of Christ. In the baby Jesus, love is being birthed into our world wanting to make a permanent home in us. The wonder of the Christmas story is not just of a baby born 2,000 years ago. It is the wonder of love being birthed once more, in us, today, in the midst of the hate and the chaos of our world. It is the wonder of love becoming a way of life for us just as it became for the apostle John.
Take some time to reflect on the impact that the love of God has had in your life. How has it transformed you and your ways of interacting with the world? How has it enabled loving one another to become a way of life for you?
Watch this fun video below and allow God to speak to you of new aspects of that love that God wants to birth in you this Christmas.