Philosophy Lite: Love came down at Christmas

By Raymond SmithTo write about the love of God is a challenge. We can understand love only in earthly terms. Some people are capable of great love and can really appreciate God's love.
Dec. 23, 2011 at 6:23 a.m.

Others who have not experienced much love are less able to comprehend the height, the depth and the breadth of that love.

Frederick Faber, in his hymn, "There's a Wideness in God's Mercy," expresses it thus: "For the love of God is broader than the measure of man's mind; and the heart of the Eternal is most wonderfully kind."

One of our greatest needs on this earth is to feel loved. We need to feel that we are important to somebody and that others care about us, appreciate us and accept us.

Those who do not feel that they are loved may develop serious personal and social problems. It is important that we understand how much God loves us.

God's love is steadfast. He may be disappointed in us at times, which may affect the relationship.

He may even chasten us at times for our own growth. His love for us does not ride on waves of human feeling, but on his own stability.

His love is unconditional. Though we may stray, he remembers that we are his children.

Two of the most famous parables of Jesus are about the shepherd who seeks his lost sheep and the loving father who worries about his wayward son.

God's love is sacrificial. He spared not his own Son to bring us to repentance and rescue us from the bonds of sin.

During this Christmas season we wish to dwell on the Son of God who shares the Father's attributes. Jesus came to this earth to teach us more perfectly about his father's character, plan for mankind, and especially his father's love.

Christina Rosetti wrote, "Love came down at Christmas, Love all lovely, love divine; Love was born at Christmas, Star and angels gave the sign."

Our understanding of reality is limited. We accept that Jesus came, but cannot fully grasp the importance and awesomeness of that event. He came as a babe, born in a manger. He was one of us. As Spurgeon puts it: "To lift us up he stooped. He made the heavens, and yet He lay in Bethlehem's manger. He hung the stars in their places ... and yet He became a carpenter's son, giving up all His rank and dignity for love's dear sake."

I will never forget a scene from the movie "Exodus" in which some British soldiers were standing watch on a hillside overlooking Bethlehem on Christmas Eve. It was a starry night and the sleepy town below was dimly lit. I can't remember their conversation, but it was obviously about the wonder of that night 2,000 years ago. Put yourself in their place and ponder the scene.

Yes, love came down at Christmas. Where would we be today without it? Ultimately, in spite of all the hate in this world, love will finally conquer.

Hasten your coming, O Prince of Peace.

Raymond F. Smith is president of Strong Families of Victoria.



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