Encounter: Read 1 John 4:7-21 in The Passion Translation. Underline the word love in all its forms as you read through the passage. How many times in this short passage does John use the word love. Begin thinking about how God’s love for us and how he shows us His love.
This time of year, Christmas movies both old and new bring some joy into our hearts. Most times they carry some sort of “lesson” that reminds us to be the best humans possible, and many times the film can make such an impression on our hearts that we live differently the next day, we may even love differently.
Jack and I love to watch The Movie Channel because there are no menacing commercials and with the Christmas movie marathon that has begun this week, it makes for some peace and comfort in this season. Last night we watched Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck in Remember the Night. It tells the story of a woman, Lee, who was a thief and the District attorney, Jack, that was to prosecute her for the crime of stealing a bracelet. Jack ended up feeling sorry for the woman who had nowhere to spend Christmas and after discovering that they were both Hoosiers, volunteered to drive her to her mother in Indiana since it was on his way to his home place where his mother and family were awaiting his arrival for the holidays.
After a sad scene that showed Lee’s mother rejecting her in hatred, Jack took her home to his family for Christmas. The contrast between Lee’s mother’s dark home filled with hatred and the light and love filled home of Jack’s family was the theme that permeated the story to the end. At one point, after Jack shares Lee’s crime with his mother, she displays grace and understanding wanting to draw our eyes to the good person that was hidden in Lee, saying “She must not have been loved well as a child and you Jack knew that love…it was love that made you understand.”
Isn’t that true? Whether we have differences because of the way we were raised, our economic status or our perspectives, the higher calling through John reminds us, “Delightfully loved ones, if he loved us with such tremendous love, then “loving one another” should be our way of life! No one has ever gazed upon the fullness of God’s splendor. But if we love one another, God makes his permanent home in us, and we make our permanent home in him, and his love is brought to its full expression in us.”
That was the other movie I watched this past week with the same theme played out right in front of my eyes. People found candles on their doorstep reminding them to ReDiscover Kindness through sharing the light of Christ, the CWF Food Bank of Eaton was filled through the people of Eden where almost 50 families will have nourishing meals for the holidays and beyond, four not three families were blessed with Walmart gift cards because you gave more than we asked, books were shared to remind people they are not alone in their grief, eight kids and families were reminded that they are of great value to God and us through virtual Spark gatherings, spiritual nourishment is brought through Bible studies, music and services that refresh our souls as we feel God’s tremendous love breaking through to us in the most humble of ways.
And we Remember the Night. The night that made this love possible.
By the end of the movie, the differences between Lee and Jack’s worlds were hardly noticeable because the fullness of God’s splendor appeared as each person expressed love to another. There is no other way. It was love that made us understand God and it will be love through each one of us that helps another on their journey home.
Love for Christmas,
Reflect: How do you express your love to God? Do you find it difficult to love God? You may be experiencing hardship, loss or confusion, which God understands. God knows it is at times difficult to feel His love or presence. How can you be sure of God’s love for you?
Encourage: Our love for others is our grateful response to the love God first demonstrated to us. What are some of the ways you express God’s love to others? Is there someone you can reach out to during the holiday season that may need to experience God’s love through your expression of that love? How is this Proverb connected to us being the expression of God in this world. Unrelenting disappointment leaves you heartsick, but a sudden good break can turn life around. (Proverbs 13:12 The Message)
Gather: Talk with a friend or your small group about the difficulties you have in loving people who you may have differences with. What does this passage say we are to do about that? “Anyone can say, “I love God,” yet have hatred toward another believer. This makes him a phony, because if you don’t love a brother or sister, whom you can see, how can you truly love God, whom you can’t see? 21 For he has given us this command: whoever loves God must also demonstrate love to others”