It is another Christmas time for me far away from my family. I am grateful for my fiance and his family with whom I spent Christmas Day. I'm blessed by all the hospitality and love I've received from them. Words wouldn't enough to describe how thankful I am being this blessed in celebrating Jesus' birthday. And the center of my joy is obviously Jesus himself.
I like Christmas not because of the festive feeling we are all having at the moment. Neither is it because of all the Christmas decorations, the glam lights, or the presents. And despite of what theologians have been debating about which is more important for Christianity; Christmas or Easter, I will say faithfully that Christmas is as important as Easter for me. I like Christmas because it is the time for us to remember how Jesus began his work. I like Christmas because the story of sacrificial love of my Savior started on the day Jesus was born.
"This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? ... Let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and truth." (1 John 16-18)
I remember when I was doing ministry work on a small island in Sumatra, Indonesia in 2008. I was sent to serve a local church in Sikakap, Mentawai; a narrow island surrounded by the sea. The church had only 17 families as members. They had no access to the internet or electricity, and surprisingly not even a toilet. Since there was no electricity, when the evening came, the whole island turned black. The only light sources were candles, or torches.
I was preparing a sermon with a candle burning on one side of the table. I got distracted by the dancing flame on the top of the candle. My window was hand made by the house owner. I guess he used any wood he found in the jungle. There were some holes in it. The wind from outside came in through those holes and blew the flame gently, making it look like it was dancing. The dancing flame slowly ate the wax. A thought came to my mind; a candle is often used as a sacrificial symbol. It gives a glimpse of light in the dark by letting itself be burned.
1 John 3:16-18 tell us that Jesus laid down his life for us, and that's love. And as Christians, we ought to follow his example. John 13:34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” He has shown us what love is and has given us an example.
Laying down our lives for our brothers means we ought to lay down our selfish needs and desires for the sake of other's needs. It’s a call for us to train ourselves not to be so full of ourselves and diligently put other’s needs as a priority.
Love should be the key to any relationship we have: in family, in your relationship with your spouse, friends, relatives, etc.
I have been practicing myself to improve the way I love others. I confidently tell you that it costs a great deal. Sometimes, you need to spend more time listening to your desperate friend instead of reading your favorite book, hanging out, or doing what you love to do. Sometimes, you need to keep some money aside for helping others in need instead of buying a new dress. Sometimes, you need to humble yourself and lose an argument as a part of understanding others. Sometimes, you need to do just little things to raise others’ potential. And always, you need to have a servant heart to serve others. That’s love.
Love requires us to give up something. It could be our time, possessions, or pride. It could be stepping out of our comfort zone, and giving up our security. Love has to be paid for. It is not love when we always ask others to give us something, to understand us, or to serve us. It is love when we give, understand, and serve.
Well, I want you to take a moment to see this picture below:
I have found signs similar to this on coaches and buses here in the UK. Each time I ride a bus, this sign reminds me of what Jesus has done: GIVING UP HIS SEAT FOR OUR NEEDS. As sinners, we need to be rescued, and Jesus gave up his life for us! Now is our turn to give up our seat.
I have learned that faith in Christ is a selfless faith. So; when was the last time other people saw your love? When was the last time you gave up your ‘seat’ for people in need?