This coming week we celebrate the birth of the Christ child. I find it simply amazing that 2000 years after His ministry on earth, Jesus is still the topic of conversation. We continue to seek Him, worship Him, learn from Him and lean on Him. I can’t help but question, “Why? Why Jesus?”
Well, this past week, I had the pleasure of taking our newest family member, Kylo, to the vet’s office for the first time. A yellow Labrador Retriever, Kylo is a one-year old energetic, lively dog. He came to us through a local lab rescue ready to be loved. It didn’t take long to realize he was unaware of basic commands like “sit” and “stay”. It didn’t take long to recognize his affinity for any type of food and that he is simply a work in progress. As I continue to spend time with Kylo, I’m learning about his personality. I’m striving to understand his barks, his joys, and why when I move too quickly toward him, he cowers back, afraid. Kylo has etched a new place of love in my heart with his unpredictable antics.
Upon arriving at the vet’s office, Kylo excitedly dragged me towards the entrance. We got there at prime time as several other animals awaited their turn, a bustling of mayhem. Kylo became highly anxious. He began to bark. And… didn’t stop. His barking grew louder and more obnoxious as our wait continued. There was a quiet, drooling hound peering at Kylo with a look of contempt. As Kylo continued his orchestral barking, I appeared as if on an SNL skit. I attempted to wrangle him with treats, patting his head while whispering sweet nothings to him. I was desperate for his behavior to shift. I tried to keep tabs on the leash as he danced and twisted around my ankles, but failed miserably. My out of control ability with this new dog sent me spiraling into rapid heartbeat and a sense of shame. I could feel the judgment as others watched the spectacle of Kylo and myself in an ever shrinking waiting room.
Soon, we were whisked into a private room. Relief washed over me. When the veterinarian entered the room, I immediately sensed her welcoming presence. She calmly let Kylo sniff her and engaged him with a loving tone of voice. Her compassion overflowed as she examined him and gave me plenty of time to ask my questions. When he continued to bark, now hearing the excitement outside of our room, she laughed a bit and said, “He seems to think there’s a party going on and he’s not part of it”. She had empathy for his past even though it’s not fully known. I suspect she’s seen similar situations, a rescued dog from a broken background, time and again. With overwhelming compassion, she was a grace extender to my loud, crazy-making dog.
In the midst of this commotion, I found a glimmer of why we continue to anxiously await Christ today. Similar to a vet who can see past the poorly behaved ways of a rescued dog… Christ comes as our rescuer. He comes and says, “Yes, I see all about you. I see where you’ve been and why certain scenarios trigger you. I see your poor attitude, your gossiping ways, your woeful worries. I know where you grew up, was with you in your past pain, and am here for you now. I understand you better than you understand yourself, and I love you brave and bold.” With Christ, love is action. It isn’t merely a flippant word thrown around. It’s not “I love you, but… you need to change. But… you need to lose weight. But… you need to make different decisions.” With Christ, it’s simply “I love you”. Jesus is the one who breathes life when all else drains our very being.
As I pondered Christ’s love, 1 Corinthians 13 arose for me. I began to see Jesus as the word love. Take a minute to read this fresh look at these well-known verses:
1 Corinthians 13:1-13 NIV
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have Jesus, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have Jesus, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have Jesus, I gain nothing.
Jesus is patient, Jesus is kind. He does not envy, He does not boast, He is not proud. Jesus does not dishonor others, He is not self-seeking, He is not easily angered, He keeps no record of wrongs. Jesus does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. Jesus always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Jesus never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and Jesus. But the greatest of these is Jesus.
It’s true. Jesus is love. Jesus’ love is not stagnant. Instead, Jesus’ love acts upon us helping us to flourish and thrive in our life. When we receive the gift of Christ, we begin to understand ourselves differently. We see ourselves loved in places previously unloved. We have more compassion for ourselves and others. We recognize and apologize for our shortcomings knowing, in Christ, all is made new again. With Christ, we are loved whole. Maybe this is why we continue to seek Christ year after year.
Christ arrives on Friday morning, Hallelujah! He is the peace extender. The hope breather. The joy provider. The love giver. He comes to love us brave and bold. To love us where we’re at. To love us with patience and compassion. May we receive this love wholeheartedly so we may birth Christ’s love to others in our coming days. Amen.
Why do you continue to seek and learn about Jesus?
Reflect on this as Christmas approaches.
Merry Christmas to each and every one of you! Thank you for supporting and encouraging me as I’ve taken a new creative step in sharing my inner thoughts through the written word. Your love has, indeed, been a gift to me. May you enjoy this season with family and friends. I am taking a short rest and will return to blogging on January 11th. Until then, may the blessings of God’s goodness and grace be with you!