The theme for the last week of Advent is one that sums up not only this season, but the whole of the Gospel in one word: love.

It’s a word that is often overused but misunderstood.  We use it freely, but do we really understand the meaning of love?

The end of Jesus’ life certainly ended with the most loving act in all of time and creation.  That a loving God would send his son (John 3:16) to become sin on our behalf so that we would be viewed as righteous before God (2 Corinthians 5:21) is an act that certainly stamps history with an incredulous story.

If that weren’t enough, we discover as we read the entirety of Scripture that there is an epic story that God has been writing since the beginning of time.  A plan that, at its climax, has the Son of God hanging on a tree, dying, and then after 3 days, rising to life again, appearing to the disciples and returning to the right hand of the Father.

All this authored by the One who, according to the Beloved Disciple, is not only the beginning of love but the very essence of love.  In 1 John 4, we find these descriptions and more.  We see what love is and what love does.  We find that God loved us first and that is the only reason that we can love God in return.  We see that God not only gives us His son to be the payment for our sin, but also gives us His Spirit, yet only if we abide in Him.

The key to loving God and being perfected in God’s love is abiding in Him.  John also uses this same word in the Gospel of John, Chapter 15 (I’d encourage you to read it, too).

Here are some definitions of abide, according to

Abide – In the mystic phraseology of John, God is said ‘to abide’ in Christ, to dwell as it were within him, to be continually operative in him by his divine influence and energy.

Abide – Christians are said to be rooted as it were in him, knit to him by the spirit they have received from him.

Abide – something has established itself permanently within my soul, and always exerts its power in me.

If you were to think about being connected to God in these ways, wouldn’t you love more? And better?

What if you were aware of God being continually operative in you by His divine influence and energy?  Isn’t this what the Christian life is supposed to be about?

Not living life on our own.  Not trying to do or be better.

If we allow God’s divine energy and power to live within us, to fill us to overflowing, then we can’t help but exude love.  And what would be other people’s experience of us and of God if we lived our lives in that way?

People would be flocking to you asking about how and why you love the way you do.  Others would be drawn to us as Christians and ask about this God we serve and love so extravagantly.  They would see a difference in the way we love each other and those around us.

This is what it means to abide.  This is what it means to love.  This is why Jesus came and the life He calls us to live.  This is what Christmas is all about.

Merry Christmas to you and yours!  May you love God and others extravagantly this year and may you feel the love of God and abide in Him.

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