It’s four days after Christmas, and the warm feelings we associate with the holidays are beginning to fade. So what now? What difference will Jesus’ coming to live among us make in our lives? How will it help us to love each other and remain “in the light” (1 John 2:8)?
For one thing, because Jesus became one of us, we now know what love looks like in real-life situations. On every page of the Gospels, he has shown us that love is about making concrete decisions to put other people’s interests before our own, He showed this by dining with people no one else wanted to associate with (Luke 19:1-10). Or feeding people who were hungry (John 6:1-15). Or asking someone suffering in silence to articulate what he needs (Luke 18:35-43). Or forgiving someone who has sinned grievously (John 8:1-11).
If this list makes it sound as if Jesus has set the bar too high for you, don’t worry. Jesus knows your strengths and weaknesses, and he is ready to help you. You don’t have to figure out how to love on your own. Jesus’ own love, his creativity, and his compassion can become your love, creativity and compassion. Slowly. Gradually. Over time and through trial and error.
Do you want to become more loving toward the people around you? The best way to do this is just . . . to do it. Take one step closer to the ideal that Jesus has set, and ask him to bless you for it. Every step you take brings you more fully into “the light” that John wrote about (1 John 2:8). Every time you turn away from indifference or resentment and perform an unexpected act of kindness or generosity, the darkness diminishes a little bit more, and Jesus’ own light and love fill you a little bit more.
Today, think of one person in your life whom you find challenging to love. Picture Jesus sitting with that person with his arm around their shoulder. Linger there until you can feel the love that flows between them. Let it soften your heart and move you to take the next step toward loving them yourself.
“Lord, I am so grateful for your love! Come and help me to show that love to the people around me.”
Psalm 96:1-3. 5-6
– The Word Among us –