The blessings of challenging times the push to look back at the why of things. That is, if we are willing to learn from our situations in life instead of putting up with them. In church circles there is the craze and emphasis of “loving thy neighbor,” but the reciprocal is lost. I am not arguing for throwing away wise action. I am asserting we may have left something big out of the mix: God Himself.
The One who holds the entire universe together added to Himself humanity. Jesus, being infinite, added to Himself smallness. There are a number of ways Jesus could have entered His world, but he chose the most humble way. Jesus, being co-equal with God the Father in every respect, submitted Himself to God’s plan. This, even today, is profoundly radical. It is no small thing that Jesus’ entrance the world was small.
In the Torah it is considered horrible if a man should hang from a tree. In Roman culture crucifixion was consider the most horrible form of execution. Jesus, the One who holds the whole universe together, the One whom the world belongs to, the One who is co-equal with the Father and with the Spirit, and the One who truly was innocent at death, submitted His life for your sake and for mine. That is a big deal. And Jesus did that, submitting to God’s plan, laid down His life for you and for me. We are granted access to God because of this act.
The Ten Commandments start with having no God above Him. It is very easy to place something else before God. Safety is our modern idol that we place before God. Living for God is not safe, for many it required their life. This is not an excuse for foolish action. This is a reality we need to face. While we must take actions to love our neighbor, we must also take action to love our God. While loving God and neighbor are the top two commandments, loving God comes first.
As Christians we always celebrated the advent in big ways because our God is a big deal. The advent is a big deal. Worshiping God corporately is a big deal. Putting God first is a big deal. Our present challenges make big more difficult, will make it different, and will be more risky. Wisdom needs to be at work here. That said, we need to make Christmas big because it truly is a big deal, and God deserves that. In all the discussions about loving our neighbor, we need to bring back the first part: Love God. Why? Because God gave us His Son, the biggest gift He could give.