Have you ever wondered why God sent Jesus to earth as a baby?
Before we go there, let’s take a look at where we’ve traveled on our road to Finding More. Seven weeks ago, love set us in motion. We watched Saul release his religious past and fully receive the love of God. After realizing the overwhelming love God demonstrated in His pursuit of him, Saul placed his faith in Jesus – the giver of grace. Saul’s three days in darkness and time spent with the disciples helped him change his thinking along with his name. He went from being tall, kingly Saul to small, humble Paul. Most profoundly, he acknowledged his legalism and allowed Love, Grace, and the Spirit to do their work through him. Paul not only changed how he thought, but as his theology changed, all of his whys began to transform as well. He stepped away from doing things to prove his worth and accepted the worth God had already placed within him.
Now Paul has more to teach us. So, let’s go back to our question: Have you ever wondered why God sent Jesus to earth as a baby? He could have, just as miraculously, arrived as a young man filled with boundless energy ready to conquer the world. He could have landed here as an old man full of years and endless wisdom ready to enlighten us all. Instead, God chose to have the Son of Love Himself enter the world as a small, helpless baby. Baby Love.
It took time for Jesus to grow. It was a process! It also takes time for our love to grow – especially love for ourselves. To be sure, self-love can come across as haughty and arrogant. However, I’ve noticed that most people who appear less-than-humble are often deeply insecure. They are driven by the need to prove themselves. They need the very thing we often refuse to give them – affirmation in who they were made to be! Yet, the ones who humbly accept Baby Love find joy in being forgiven. They make peace with hurts of the past and enjoy the process of allowing that Love to grow.
It’s interesting to me that when our friend Paul lists the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5, he puts love first. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23) Truly, love is the most excellent way. (1 Corinthians 12:31)
Maybe Paul didn’t intend there to be a progression in that list, but I can’t help but notice the lynchpin between the inward and outward marks of a Spirit-filled Christian. Inwardly, we are filled with love, joy, and peace. From that overflow, our doors swing wide to exhibit kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control to those around us. Yet, without consistently greasing our hinge of patience (the characteristic stuck in the middle of that list), our inward and outward doors of faith creak; never inviting others to enter into a Spirit-filled life.
Patience allows time for:
- love to grow,
- mistakes to teach us,
- forgiveness to happen,
- our thinking to change,
- our hearts to change, and
- for others to begin to notice the change within us.
Jesus didn’t come to us full grown. When we are born again, we don’t come to Him full grown either. He came to teach us how to live, how to die to ourselves, and then live forever. It’s a process for a lifetime.
As we become more patient with ourselves, we become more patient with others. We see the hurt that causes others to hurt us. We let the Spirit gain more and more control of our thoughts and our tongues. We begin to enjoy the process of simply loving, doing good, and expecting nothing in return. We patiently walk in the light we’ve been given and let others do the same.
Once again, Paul says it best:
“Not that I have already reached the goal or am already perfect, but I make every effort to take hold of it because I also have been taken hold of by Christ Jesus. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus. Therefore, let all of us who are mature think this way. And if you think differently about anything, God will reveal this also to you. In any case, we should live up to whatever truth we have attained.” (Philippians 3:12-16, CSB)
What if we all simply rest in the grace we’ve been given and allow our current measure of love to grow in 2021?
As we near the end of our Finding More journey, I humbly ask for your prayers with the next two installments. These will be the most difficult, and at the same time the most joyful for me to write because they go so very deep. We’ve traveled successfully through the love of God and the grace of Jesus. Next week, we’ll move on to the fellowship of the Holy Spirit (or as The Message puts it, “the intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit.”) For me to be able to Find More, the word “friendship” had to morph from a trigger into a glorious launching pad. But we’ll talk more about that next week. Until then, HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!