Fourth Sunday in Advent

by Matthew B. Harper

For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. (John 3:17)

All too often when people think of Christians, they think of condemnation. They picture a God who comes to condemn them and the world. We are all sinners, and in prison the reality of our crimes and wrongdoings is ever present to us. We are living in punishment, we are expecting condemnation, and we condemn ourselves. But what we never expect is the radical love of Christ.

In all of His earthly ministry Jesus never condemns people for being lost, sinful, or broken. The harsh words that Jesus does speak are reserved for those who abuse and misuse their positions as ministers and priests. God speaks only words of love and invitation to His children. The Bible is handed down to us as a great gift, not a weapon to use on each other.

Many of us in here have been abused and condemned by Christians. Instead of seeing examples of Christ’s loving presence, we have only seen examples of human weakness and animosity. This is not the Gospel message.

God loves us so much, in our sinfulness and brokenness, that he sends his son to us to invite us back into a relationship with Him. Christ’s birth was foretold, and so was Christ’s death on Golgotha. God gave His son to us, knowing we would reject and kill Him. This is how much God loves us.

Dare we love each other as much?

Dare we not.

O come, thou wisdom from on high, who orderest all things mightily; to us the path of knowledge show, and teach us in her ways to go. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel! (Hymn 56)

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