This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.
(1 John 4:9, NIV)
My wife and I have eleven precious grandchildren who get so excited during the Christmas season that they affect the entire family. Sometimes this obscures the true meaning of Christmas—the advent of the God-Man to save the world. Their childlike excitement is wonderful, but John describes a different joy in 1 John 4:9: “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.” The Incarnation means that the Son of God left the perfection of heaven to take on human flesh to provide salvation for all people who believe in Him for the forgiveness of sins and to provide fellowship with Himself in the Holy Spirit.
Yet, many people feel alone, forgotten, and unloved at Christmastime. Sometimes the electric atmosphere of Christmas lights up everything around you—except you. If you feel unloved at Christmas, don’t forget the wonderful truths found in 1 John 4:9. First, godly “love” according to John is agape, a sacrificial love that embraces us with words and actions (1 John 3:18). Jesus demonstrated this love even at the point of death on the cross so that we may live with Him forever. Second, Jesus is unique. God sent Him as the “one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5). This line from Charles Wesley’s memorable hymn sums it up: “Love divine, all loves excelling, joy of heaven to earth come down.”
Stop and try to grasp how much believers are loved! Don’t let the commercialism that surrounds the world’s celebrations rob you of the joy that comes from being loved by God. First John 4 deepens our understanding of this season as a celebration of central truths that have guided the church for millennia. This Christmas, I pray that all those who have placed their faith and hope in Jesus will experience His love as never before.