She’s an independent small town business woman jaded by past relationships. He’s an engaged, rich guy from a big corporation trying to take over her struggling enterprise. They meet two days before Christmas. He’s impressed, her heart melts, a miracle happens, and they kiss under the mistletoe.
This common trope of sentimental love promoted on every channel and streamed into homes worldwide is not at all the love of Christmas that Scripture describes:
This is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.1 John 4:10
Christmas is God saying, “I love you. I’ve made a way for you to be part of my family that doesn’t cost you anything. You can accept my gift or not, as you wish.”
But let’s be honest here. At first glance, this doesn’t look like a gift or feel like love. The Christmas story is weird. God’s Son becomes a human baby in the womb of a teenage girl. Then grows up to be sacrificed in a grisly death. To save mankind.
I get that it sounds like a fairy tale. I understand why Santa ends up beside the baby Jesus in yard displays. I get why God’s love is misunderstood and some perceive it as abusive and conditional.
So even as we watch another Christmas romcom, let’s revisit the basics of true Christmas love:
Love is God himself. God is merciful, abounding in kindness and compassion (1 John 4:16, Ephesians 2:4–5). Because he is holy, his love is utterly pure and good (Mark 10:18).
Love comes from God. God loved us first (1 John 4:7–8, 19). He initiated love. It’s all his doing.
Love is self-sacrificial. God’s love seeks our welfare, most of all our salvation (Romans 5:8). The greatest love is to give your life for your friends (John 15:13). Jesus did that.
Love is unconditional. We can’t do anything to earn God’s love and don’t have to meet a certain standard to be accepted by him (Ephesians 2:8–9). (Some may say that belief is a condition but I see it as a response to God’s love.)
Love must be demonstrated. Love is shown by actions, not just in words (1 John 3:18). God pursues, desires, and cherishes, (Ephesians 5:29) and gives us Jesus.
This love that Scripture describes would be abusive and narcissistic in any human. And we would be unwise to unreservedly give ourselves to another human. But we’re talking about a holy, utterly good, majestic being. We can only surrender to this love because of who offers it.
Therefore, when Hallmark tells you that joy comes in a Christmas romance, remember that God is the one true source of love. When your path ahead is difficult, don’t look for peace in a Christmas miracle. Remember that God loved you first and demonstrated it by sending Jesus to be your Savior. He created you. He seeks your good. Nothing can separate you from his love (Romans 8:38–39). Receive it, believe it, know it, and then go and love others with true Christmas love (John 15:12).
What is keeping you from receiving or experiencing God’s love?
I pray that according to the wealth of his glory he will grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner person, that Christ will dwell in your hearts through faith, so that, because you have been rooted and grounded in love, you will be able to comprehend what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and thus to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you will be filled up to all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:16–19).