SUNDAY: LOVE by Holly Yinger

SCRIPTURE: Psalm 115

Often times, false gods have been (and continue to be) systems of manipulation. Rituals are performed so that one might find pardon or receive exceptional blessing or be granted victory. These systems are marked by how one can get the most for themselves. Sometimes they look like physical idols cast in gold. Sometimes they take on the more discreet forms of security found in bank accounts or a greedy spirit in relationships with others. These gods are not
limited to ancient times, but are prevalent in our lives and in our world today. They have taken on endless forms. But they all share something in common: Like the idols described in Psalm 115, these gods have no trace of life in them. And so too, their worshippers become. It’s been said that we become like the gods that we worship. And sometimes this means that we are made into empty shells of humans with hearts made of stone. Lifeless and loveless.

But our God is instead marked by these refreshing traits of steadfast love and faithfulness. Our God is uniquely relational. Our God is gracious with us and remains with us, in spite of our unfaithfulness. Our God is bursting with life. Our God thought up love, embodied love, taught about love, and is love. What happens when we serve a God of steadfast love and faithfulness? It’s possible that we just might become loving and faithful people. With God as our God, we become more fully alive and more fully love. We become like the God we worship. Not for the sake of our own glory, but for God’s glory. The people of the world shouldn’t be asking, ‘Where is our God?’ because we should be allowing this love to be alive in us, visible in us, transforming us.

Our God is not a system to be manipulated for our own selfish gain. Rather our God reminds us of who we are and how we were created to be. We were created out of love, to be creatures of love. Our hearts are changed. Our wants are changed.

Somewhere along the line, we’ve gotten ourselves swept up in this notion that our lives are about building our own little kingdoms, rather than ushering in the kingdom of God. When we build kingdoms of our own, it becomes very difficult to be lovers of people without seeing them as tools to be used for gain or obstacles that stand in our way. Somewhere along the line, we’ve been misguided to believe that we must earn the love of God, rather than believing the truth that we were crafted in love. Love was already woven into the very fibers of our being. And our pursuits of loveless gods will never, ever satisfy a soul that was made for love. Somewhere along the line, we’ve allowed ourselves to become disillusioned about what this love looks like. We struggle in so many ways. Some with receiving this love that it is given without conditions. Some with giving this love without conditions. And so this Advent season, we celebrate the gift of love in the birth of a Messiah. We celebrate a God that demonstrates love for us. We give thanks for a God who patiently teaches us how to live out this love that breaks out of the abstract realm and manifests itself in tangible ways among us. This Advent season, we celebrate God’s presence and love in our midst today.

And we recognize that the world is still left wanting for love in so many ways. We ache with those who are still caught in this dead end cycle of idol worship, of searching for love and life where none exists. We cling to the promise that we serve a God who longs to set things right. We abide in the love of God, that God might abide in us. That God’s love in us might be a powerful light until the day of Christ’s return.

Lord, reveal to us any false gods we’ve begun to worship in our own lives.
We give our hearts to You, to change them and to change our wants.
Plant seeds of love that last deep within us.
Allow our lives to speak to the world by the love that exists in them.

Josh Kleinfeld