Well, so far it’s not been much of a “wintry” winter, at least not here in southern Ohio.
We are hearing, of course, of real winter weather in the West and the Plains, but December here was not been typical at all. But if it were especially wintry here, if we were being assaulted by Arctic blasts, frigid snowfalls, and freezing ice storms, we would likely be longing for a quick return of warmer days.
And while it may not be especially cold and icy here in a meteorological sense, it is a cold, cold world in which we live… in a spiritual sense. Worn down by the apathy and indifference of a jaded people, the corruption and arrogance of a broken political system, and the confusion and hate-mongering of religions that are warmed only by the heated conflicts that characterize them, one quickly begins to long for a touch of warmth from a heart of love.
What is it after all that thaws a frozen heart? What warms a frigid home? What turns a winter of despair into a spring of hope?
Love, of course. More specifically, it is God’s love that does this (lest we be confused with the inferior notions of love volleyed about in popular culture).
Love is not content with the status quo but of upholding the welfare and enrichment of those upon whom love shines its light. Love is not interested in merely pointing out how another is wrong or unworthy, but with drawing one out from the tentacles of error into the wonder and freedom of God’s truth (see 1 Corinthians 13).
Once we begin to understand and come to grips with this amazing and life-changing attribute of God, we find ourselves being transformed by it. It grabs hold of us and we find ourselves woefully undeserving of it, yet it wonderfully comes to us nonetheless because that is what God’s love does.
It motivated the Father to send His Son as Savior for all who will receive Him so that the yawning gulf that separates us from God might be spanned. It motivated the Son to spend His own life on a cross He did not deserve so that the reality of a literal hell might be averted for any who would receive His gift of forgiveness. It motivates the Spirit of God to abide in we who are God’s children through faith in His Son, transforming us from mere sinners into the likeness of Jesus Christ today! And it motivates us as God’s Children, through the leading of His Spirit, to give ourselves away on behalf of those around us, undeserving though we may think them (but in truth no more undeserving than any of us).
God’s love is what moves us to speak words of encouragement to one who is broken by fear or weariness of heart. God’s love is what moves us to share with those around us when they are in need. God’s love is what moves us to stand up for those who are oppressed and are victimized. God’s love is what is moving millions of Christians today in making a difference in the world around them! Because of His love, they are determined to show His compassion, share His truth, and shed His grace into the tear-laden vales of calamity and crisis, warming hearts that have been frozen by fear, grief, and pain with fires of passion for the One Who loved them first.
“By this we know love, that He laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers … In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent His only Son into the world, so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and His love is perfected in us” (1 John 3:16, 4:9-12 ESV).
So let us truly love in this day of need. Let us love as Christ has loved us and thereby give Him glory and give the world hope. Allow the warmth of God’s love even now to thaw your outlook for 2016 as He turns your heart towards Himself and others to His love through you!
Pastor Thom Mollohan leads Pathway Community Church and may be reached for comments or questions by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.