“This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1 John 4:10 NIV)
There is a basic difference in Christianity that separates it from nearly every other religion. The difference is this: most other religions are about what we must do to reach up to God. Christianity is about what God has done in love to reach down to us. “This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1Jn. 4:10).
Notice that the initiator of love was God, not us. We didn’t love Him first. He loved us first. We love Him only because He first loved us (1Jn. 4:19). Also notice that His love toward us was demonstrated in action, “He sent His Son.” Finally, notice that the reach of His love had a specific aim, “an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”
This was the specific aim of His love because this was our specific need. We were dead in our trespasses and sins and separated from God because of them (Eph. 2:1, 12). We were too far gone to reach up to God. So, in His great love, He reached down to us. He sent Jesus to pay the debt of our sins, make us alive, and bridge the gap that separated us from Him. God reached down to us in order to pull us up to Him.
God reaching down to us in love is what Christmas is all about. This is because it’s what Christianity is all about. This is because it’s what Christ is all about. So, this Christmas, let’s let it be what we’re all about!
© Paul R Downing