Tis The Season To Love The Ones You Love

Immanuel—God with Us

Christmas is a time when we celebrate the most wonderful act of love—Immanuel
       God with us. It’s a time when we celebrate the God who drew near to us when we were far from him. Romans 5:8 says it best, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
       Better yet, Christ came for us!
       He stepped out of eternity and into time. He surrendered his throne for a feeding trough. He surrendered omnipotence for weakness. He relinquished his universal authority to be raised by teen parents.
       “Although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:6-7).
       Christmas is a season to remember the God who drew near to us, and we should follow His example by drawing near to others.

Christmas with Family…Pass

It’s easy to buy the lady on the corner next to Starbucks a cup of coffee. It’s easy to feed the homeless. It’s easy to send a care package to an overseas soldier at Christmas. But it’s not so easy to love those you love at Christmas—your family. I’ve found that for many, this is the most difficult group to draw near to during the holidays.
       In fact, they are often those avoided!
       It could be a close friend who betrayed us, a relative who hurt us, an ex-wife who destroyed the marriage, a mentor who disappointed us, or a friend who betrayed us.
       Have you ever noticed how difficult it can be to love the ones you love (or loved)? They’re the ones who make us the angriest. They’re the ones we struggle to forgive. They’re the ones who cause us the most pain. They’re the ones we refuse to accept. They’re the ones we most often resent. They’re the ones we avoid during holidays. They’re the ones who avoid US during holidays. I bet they’re also the ones Jesus was talking about when he said, “If you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matthew 6:14-15).

Four Fun Christmas Questions

In the next two weeks, ask yourself these four questions and answer them—honestly.
       Christmas Question #1: Who has hurt, offended, or disappointed me? Why did their name just pop up in my mind?
       Christmas Question #2: Who have I hurt in the past that may be struggling with me this Christmas? With whom do I need to rebuild a burnt bridge?
       Christmas Question #3: What am I actually doing to love those I say (or am supposed to) I love? How am I drawing near to them as Jesus drew near to me?
       Christmas Question #4: Who am I holding on to right now? Who is Jesus sharing my heart with? Who owns a piece of me right now?

It’s a Personal Problem

Several years ago, I realized I didn’t love someone I said I loved. I judged the pain she caused to those I loved. I condemned her lifestyle choices. I purposely separated myself from her. I was one of the few believers in her life, but the distance I created between us was my failure to love her through her poor choices. In doing so, I forfeited my kingdom influence in her life until I repented and decided to love this one because of the One I loved.
       If Christ is about God making things right with humanity, shouldn’t it be so with us, His ambassadors? Shouldn’t we set ourselves aside long enough to let Christ redeem the strained relationships with those we claim to love?
       I had to make that tough phone call. You know, the one where you ask a person for forgiveness because you held resentment in your heart. The funny thing was that she had no idea I was bitter towards her.

2 Corinthians 5:18-20

At Christmas I want to challenge you to build a bridge—to draw near. Hebrews 10:39 reminds that we are not of those who “shrink back” but we lean forward. We run to the fray. We are fixers. We are ambassadors.
       “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us” (2 Corinthians 5:18-20).
       God is about making wrong things right. He makes things right between He and us, and then between us and those we love. Commit to making things right with those you love as you pursue the best version of you through Jesus.

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