“We are not called to love God or the world. Rather, we are called to love God IN the world. We love God by loving the world. We love God through and with the world…[and] this turns out to be a sacrificial love.”
– Sallie McFague
Here we are again at another Advent season (for those of us who like the “liturgical calendar”). It’s that time of year again where we celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace by proclaiming “Merry Christmas” as we over shop and overeat, rabid consumers in an age of technological saturation.
During Advent, I try and re-center myself by getting back to the simplicity of what this season means: the God of all creation entered our realm to be with us and to live and love as one of us. And so we are called to do the same: to enter into the world and love it. We are called to love the world as God loved the world, which included dying for it; which included dying for our enemies, those who are different, those who are not like us, those who do not believe as we believe. That is the kind of love we need this Christmas.
We are called to love God through the world, by loving all that God has made: all of creation, all that is created, all people, and creatures and the entire cosmos. For every created thing is but a mere reflection of God, a glimpse of the Beauty of the One Who is Infinite Love.
For if I say I love God but hate another then it is plain and simple: I am a liar. Anyone who says they love God but hate another (regardless of whether that “other” is queer, gay, Muslim, atheist, republican or democrat, Russian or American, white or black) is a LIAR.
1 John 4: 7-8; 20-21
7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And [Jesus] has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.
And every Christmas it happens, that thing I find almost hilarious and odd this time of year: people seem more concerned about “keeping Christ in Christmas” than they are about actually loving people as Jesus loved people – unconditionally and lavishly.
And Jesus loved people where there were as they were, seeing them as images of his God, people created in love. And I also find it odd that many of the people who are screaming about keeping Christ in Christmas don’t really care too much about keeping him in all the other parts of their lives or times of the year…
There is much hatred and fear mongering all around us; from politics to religion to my country versus your country. But in the end, it is Love that will lead the way. And if I am judged because I try daily to love as Jesus loves, then so be it. I would rather be judged because I am to gracious and messy with love than to be judged for being an asshole.
So, I will show my love for God by loving this world as God loves this world; by actually loving it as it is, not as I would have it.
For God so loved this particular world – this hate-filled, messy, mixed up beautiful world – that God chose to come into it, as a fragile human being, to be close to us, to love us face to face, to love us even unto death. And it is this love – this divine love – that is still scandalous even to this day.
Maybe the best thing I can do this Christmas is more about keeping Jesus in my living and loving throughout the entire year than just focusing on keeping him in my holiday greeting….