In this sermon, Pastor Neil preaches on the subject of what Jesus wants for Christmas– he wants us to love Him and love one another. Here are some excerpts:
There were lots of good things going on in the church at Ephesus, but the bottom line is that good works, good theology, and a refusal to give up in spite of opposition are no substitute for love – love for God and love for one another. As Alan Johnson says: “Loving devotion to Christ can be lost in the midst of active service, and certainly no amount of orthodoxy can make up for a failure to love one another” (Johnson, Revelation [The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 12; Hebrews – Revelation], 434).
Let me encourage you, in the name of Jesus, to examine yourself in the mirror of God’s Word. Is your love for God as strong as it once was? Do you feel the same closeness to God that you once felt? Do you have the same desire to know God and to grow in your relationship to Him that you once had? Have you lost some of your fervor for God? For His Word? For prayer?
And what about your relationships in the body of Christ, in the fellowship of the Faith Church family? Have you drifted away from the closeness you once felt with your sisters and brothers in Christ? Do you feel more distant from other members of the church family, whether due to busyness or disagreement or something else?
Paul’s words to the Corinthians in 2 Corinthians 13:5 seem timely: “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves” (NIV). “Give yourselves regular checkups. You need firsthand evidence … that Jesus Christ is in you. Test it out. If you fail the test, do something about it” (MSG). Paul is not saying that you (or I) should be obsessive or compulsive about examining ourselves. But we should be serious about it. We should be intentional about it. We should make every effort to strengthen and deepen our love for God and our love for one another. If we fail the test, we’re in trouble. And we need to do something about it
If you have drifted away from God, now is the time to repent and return to Him. If you have allowed your love for God to grow cold – or even lukewarm – now is the time to repent and rekindle the love you had at first. If you have distanced yourself from others or have allowed a critical spirit to make a home in your heart, now is the time to repent and renew your resolve, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to cultivate a loving spirit and loving relationships in the family of believers.
What does Jesus want for Christmas? The renewing of the love we had at first for Him and for each other. The renewing of your love and mine. How do we renew our love for Him and for each other?