Advent: Love

David Ruis, Dec 19, 2021, 8:00 AM
David Ruis National Director
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Fourth Sunday of Advent: Love

This is the candle which has us celebrating love.

It comes to us in the Person of Immanuel.


As we watch this candle burn we pray that we would be forged by the fire of He who is Love. That the light of God would illuminate our imaginations and fuel our intercession that we may live partnering with the Spirit to see the kingdom dreams of heaven find expression on this earth.

Peace. Good will.

Love that brings justice. Love that instills hope. Love that nurtures peace.

The love that never fails.

There is a fascinating smithing of the original language in which these words were penned in 1 Corinthians 13:8. The word picture painted evokes the imagery of something never running out - never ending. Or more strikingly, that it never gives up. One translation of the text expresses it this way, "love survives everything."

Love keeps reaching. Keeps believing. Keeps hoping. Sustaining forever.

"But where there are prophecies, they will cease."

We need some divine insight every once in a while. A word that strikes as from the very mouth of God can truly be a remarkable and life changing thing. A word that brings a course correction that diverts our path from disaster is such a gift. A verse of Scripture that anchors us again and again is valuable. Yet, any echo of the voice of God that is untethered from love will clang. It will even eventually cripple no matter the original intent. Rather than releasing freedom and hope it can fetter. Produce the chains of religiosity that are clasped by fear. These words cannot - will not - last. Love will have the final say in all things.

"Where there are tongues, they will be stilled."

The mystical. The ecstatic. Without experiencing the wonder of things that transcend, that are inexplicable even, life can be quite dull. We need language that goes beyond language. The sounds beyond the sounds. The rhythms of life, grace and beauty that can be hard to feel - to express - but we know they're there. The moments when they find wings and unlock our deepest doubts - our deepest groans - our deepest longings - born on the wind of the Spirit to the very ears of God, are special. But even these will be stilled. They cannot carry this day - or this night. And once we see the One who is called Love face to face, all that is shrouded in mystery will be revealed in His glorious light - and love will remain.

"Where there is knowledge, it will pass away."

To understand - to know - is a good thing, but the longer we journey in this life, we realize how much more we do not understand. We see as in a dim mirror - a reflection. We want to be lifelong learners and press in to be faithful students of life and living, but all the knowledge we can attain will pass away. Only love remains.

Love is relentless. It never fails. Another facet of the Greek language here is that love never "falls off." Perhaps the notion of a love that is unconditional is a misnomer, for if there is a love that is conditional, well then, it is not love. Love is unshakable. Feelings may pass. A sense of erotic excitement will be fleeting. The chemistry and sensations we call love will shift and change. Adoration that we hold for material things and our deepest dreams, will fade. Diminish. Even completely disappear.

But love never fails.
Never stops.
Never "falls off."

Always believing. Always reaching. Always waiting.

It is secure. It is not fragile. It does not need to be coddled. Therefore it will not coerce. It does not bully. It is kind. It is not vengeful. No need to dominate or demand therefore it does not control or manipulate. Where it begins it finds its completion. There is no other end.

For God is love.

And God moves. It is the essence of the Trinity. Moving. Dancing. Breathing. Creating. Redeeming. Restoring. Embracing. Relating.

Not simply a verb, or an adjective. It is the very essence of God. This is not to say that love is God, but that it exists because God is. It does not exist, or find expression, to balance out the attributes of the Godhead. It is not the training wheels of the Trinity to keep sovereignty, judgment, holiness and omnipotence in check. God is love and all His attributes are expressed through it. They flow from this essence. If love is not the result, then it has not come from God.

And this Word has become flesh. This light has come. Immanuel. Jesus.


First. Last. Beginning. End.

He has been from the beginning. He has come in the nativity. He walked among us and died and rose again. He is coming.

Immanuel. In eternity past. In eternity future.

Love never fails.