Feelings of anger at Christmas time are not uncommon. I remember one Christmas when anger bubbled up inside of me as I glanced down at the group chat. “How dare she speak that way!!” The blood pounded so hard in my head that I could hear it in my ears, and my hands started to shake. My heart convicted me of the anger I was experiencing, but I justified it by saying “Well Jesus got angry too!” It’s okay I’m angry because it’s on behalf of someone else.” But the small voice whispered to me again.
“How perfect was God? How easy would have it been to be constantly angry at how imperfect all these humans were? Wouldn’t have he been more justified in his anger toward them? And yet… how many times does it say he got angry? It’s just twice, isn’t it? How many times have you been angry just this week while preparing for Christmas? Do you think there’s another emotion we could move toward?
As we manage our expectations with our family and friends this time of year it’s easy to end up frustrated and experience anger at Christmas. Remembering the patience and love that we are loved with can allow us to move in toward love with others!
More Than “You Do You”
We live in a cultural moment that talks about and values loving others. “I’ll let you do your thing, while I do mine.” seems loving, but is passive. The love that this verse shows us isn’t a passive disinterest in what we do, or what is happening to us, but rather a fully immersed and active love.
We’ve learned in past lessons that Christ’s coming didn’t start with his birth. We often think of Christ dying for us as his ultimate gift of love, but his coming to earth and living in love was also his embodiment of the attribute on display. Jesus celebrated weddings with people. He wept at funerals. He had close personal relationships with other humans. John wrote this book. In another part of the book, he refers to himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.
The verses before this tell us, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
What Christ did by coming to earth, living, dying, and rising among humans was transform the way we live in community with one another. Our love pours out of the love that he has for us. We have a right understanding of how much we need him, and what he saved us from. We know that if we were asked, “Let him/her who is without sin cast the first stone.” (John 8) We also would be unable to raise condemnation toward another.
Love is Our Example
We can look at Jesus’ recorded life and see how patient he was with humans. He lovingly answered questions, pursued those society considered unfavorable, and ended up dying in love to rescue those who hated him.
The more we understand how loved we are, the easier it is to proactively love those who are put into our lives. I want to wrap up with 1 John 4:19, “We love because he first loved us.” When we imitate the love of Christ it is a glimpse of the kingdom he is bringing.