Have you ever noticed how God relates to the world? He never dreams up a new vocabulary. He uses the one we use. He speaks our language. Love is one of those languages. When we talk about love, we can all understand it to one degree or another because we have all been in love. And that is how God has chosen to communicate to us.
But, have you ever considered the fact that God has a problem with His love? He has a love problem. We can all identify with the problem. We’ve all experienced the same problem. We’ve all loved someone who didn’t even know they were being loved.
Because this is true about God, He is faced with several questions…
What do you do if you love someone and they don’t know you exist?
Try to get them to notice you. I’ve tried that. One time, when I was a college student, I tried to get a girl to notice me. I bought her some ice cream. I had a huge crush on her. I had a friend take the ice cream to her. She didn’t appreciate it. She sent it back. She said I was arrogant for not even asking her if she wanted some.
You must be careful when you want to love someone who doesn’t even know you exist.
The best way is to get introduced. As far as God is concerned the Old Testament prophets were the introducers.
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. Is 7:14
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6
But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,
are only a small village among all the people of Judah.
Yet a ruler of Israel will come from you,
one whose origins are from the distant past. Micah 5:2 (NLT)
It’s an old movie plot. The woman is a minor actress in a play or a dancer in a musical. She has a secret admirer in the audience every night. Night after night she receives a dozen roses with no name attached, just a card that reads “From a secret admirer.” She begins to wonder who he could be; she dreams of what he will look like; she thinks of him often. And then finally he asks her to dinner, and they fall in love and live happily ever after.
That is what God has done. We didn’t know Him, but He was watching us. He knew us and loved us. He sent roses. Sometimes those roses were the prophets. Sometimes He whispered His love in the trees and the sunsets and in the laughter of children.
And then at Christmas, God signed the card.
What do you do if you love someone and the person you love doesn’t love you back?
Unrequited love is a horrible thing. Usually those who suffer from it do the wrong thing: They manipulate, “I have cancer, and I only have a short time to live.” They use force, “I know you don’t love me, but if you don’t learn to, I’ll beat up your little brother.” They use persistence, “You have no choice. I am going to pressure you and pursue you until you give up.” They use guilt, “I have loved you for so long. The least you could do is love me a little. If you don’t, I’ll kill myself and you’ll be sorry.”
But, God is wise in the ways of love. He knows that if you want to get someone to love you back, you have to learn to be gentle.
You catch a loved one the same way you catch trout. Carefully. Gently. That, dear friend, is what God did at Christmas. He knew love takes a while. He knew us. And so He whispered. That’s why He came as a baby instead of a king.
What do you do if you love someone and the person you love is not worthy of your love?
A man told me one time that he was giving up dating. I asked, “Why?” He said, “I can’t find a woman who will please Mother.” In other words, his mother had decided no woman was good enough for her son. God decided that too. The only difference between God and the mother is that she was wrong in her opinion. But God is as right as He can be. He hit the nail on the head.
One of the problems with “celebrity Christianity” is that people get the idea that God only loves those people who are attractive: if you are beautiful, talented, or athletic, then God will love you.
Let me tell you something: there are no attractive people as far as God’s holiness is concerned.
When you measure beauty, talent or athletic prowess by perfection, there is no such thing as beauty, talent or athletic prowess. It’s even truer when you measure human goodness by perfection.
That’s why we cry out with the prophet:
The heart is deceitful above all things
and beyond cure.
Who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9
What do you do when the one you love is not worthy of your love? You don’t stop loving, because worth is not a factor in love.
That’s what the prophet Hosea learned when he was commanded by God to marry the prostitute Gomer. God wanted to graphically show Israel how unfaithful they had been. And true to form, Gomer was adulterous after she married the preacher Hosea. She had children by other men. God told Hosea to go get her and love her again. She’d run away and be unfaithful, and each time, God would say, “Go get her…and love her again.”
God said, “That’s how I feel, Hosea. Israel has been that unfaithful to me. She has worshipped Baal and countless other gods over and over but…
“… then I will win her back once again. I will lead her out into the desert and speak tenderly to her there. I will return her vineyards to her and transform the Valley of Trouble into a gateway of hope. She will give herself to me there, as she did long ago when she was young, when I freed her from captivity in Egypt.”
“ I will make you my wife forever, showing you righteousness and justice, unfailing love and compassion. 20 I will be faithful to you and make you mine, and you will finally know me as Lord.
Hosea 2:14 & 15, 19 & 20 (NLT)
That’s what love is all about. You don’t explain love. Who knows why a princess loves an ugly frog? She just does. God loved us when we didn’t deserve it, that’s what Christmas is all about.
What do you do if you love someone who is never going to love you back?
I’m sure you’ve all heard the saying, “When you love something, set it free, and if it never returns to you, it was never meant to be.” I have a different spin on that, “When you love something, set it free, and if it never returns to you…hunt it down and kill it.”
Love that is forced is not love, its manipulation. I can force my family to show signs of love, but I can’t force them to love me even though I am bigger than they are. I can say to my grandchildren, “You love me or I’ll never speak to you again.” Or “I’ll hit you and hurt you if you don’t love me.” And they will hug me and kiss me and do nice things for me, but they will never love me.
Why? Because love, in order to be love, must have a choice.
And that’s what God did at Christmas. He gave us a choice. He hit the ball into our court. He said, “I love you, I have proven my love, but I will not force it on you. You must come to Me yourself. You don’t have to come to me with a gift, or with purity, or with even a love like Mine. But you must come.
If you are thirsty, I will give you living water because I love you. But you must drink. If you are hungry, I will give you the bread of life because I love you. But you must eat. If you are tired and weary, I will give you rest because I love you. But you must lean on me. If you are sinful, dirty, I will forgive you and clean you up because I love you. But you must come.
You see, despite the problems and regardless of the response, God came Himself, loved and kept on loving. In fact, Jeremiah said,
“The Lord appeared to us in the past saying: ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.’” Jeremiah 31:3 (NLT)
After all, the story of Christmas is a love story. Don’t be confused by the trinkets and the glitter. It’s not even about babies, stables and wise men. Christmas is about love.
One of C.S. Lewis’ friends Dorothy Sayers wrote mystery novels. She was one of the first women to graduate from Oxford. She is famous for the Lord Peter Wimsey stories. Peter was a detective and an investigator. (Think Sherlock Holmes)
They are wonderful to read and are dramatized on the BBC. One critic pointed out that if you read the Peter Wimsey stories closely you can see that though he was successful at solving mysteries and crimes, he was lonely. He was a lonely bachelor.
Half way through the series of detective novels, a character is introduced named Harriet Vane. And guess what? She writes mystery novels. And she was one of the first women to graduate from Oxford. Sound familiar?
The author, Dorothy Sayers, had looked into her own creation and fallen in love with her hero. She saw how lonely he was and so she wrote herself into the story. She won his love, they got married. She saved him from his life of loneliness.
That is exactly what God did. He looked into the world He created and He sees us flailing and floundering and He wrote Himself into the story as Jesus Christ who died on the cross to save us.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” John 3:16
Love came down at Christmas. Don’t miss it.