All You Need Is Love - Love, Love, Love?

Text: Titus 3:4-7

In the name of Jesus. Amen.

We all know the verse John 3:16, 

"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." 

Now, it is important to note a few things with this verse. First, the love of God is not a mushy feeling. And secondly, we are saved by faith, not warm, sentimental religious thoughts.  

In other words, John 3:16 does not say, 

"For God so loved the world that he sent positive vibes so that whoever would attract God's positive energy might feel most excellent."  

Dear friends, unfortunately, much of American spirituality these days operates within the realm of the abstract. In other words, North American people are fascinated with good vibes, positive energy, and happy thoughts. We think happy thoughts for someone, send positive vibes to others, and transfer positive energy – sometimes we even try to do this with certain hand gestures. The point is, the love and goodness of God are not abstract – they are not hypothetical, floaty, or ethereal. But instead, the love of God is concrete, real, and simple.  

Take John 3:16, for example, again. The love of God is shown not by God having a positive vibe but instead by God giving. That is right; God gave His only Son. 

And so, Christmas is about the love of God for you and me, not with God's holiday cheer, but with God's holiday giving of Christ Jesus our Lord. Think of it this way; the love of God is a verb – it is an action. The love of God is also a person – the infant lying in the manger.  

Now, unfortunately, in this world, love can be sparse. We all need love but often do not have it from others. And so, youth will often act out mischievously to try and get attention and love from adults. A husband or wife will divorce their spouse and run to another person to get the love that they are desperately seeking. People will use money to try and buy love by giving good gifts to those around them, expecting love in return. Furthermore, it is not uncommon to see many fights break out during the Christmas Season as family members manipulate one another to try and get the feeling of love. Frankly, we could write a phycology book this morning, diagnosing all the unhealthy ways in which we clamor and fight for love from others. Even with God, we desperately want His love. 

And so, we often try and do a bunch of good works to get God's loving-kindness to shower down upon us. We cross our T's and dot our I's and act in ways to get the approval and love of God to shine down on our guilty conscience.  

Truth be told, no matter how strong you may think you are, that old song from the Beatles is mostly right, 

"All you need is love – love, love, love."   

But again, the problem exists that love is sparse these days in our culture. Even in our families, those closest to us will often fail to love us, for they themselves often get distracted by trying to obtain love for themselves.  

So what is a person to do?  

Well, before God almighty, it isn't so much about what you ought to do, but instead, it is about what you need to see and hear.  It is about seeing and hearing what has been done for you. 

In our reading from the Epistle of Titus, the Apostle Paul tells you and me that the kindness and love of God appeared. In other words, the world that we live in is often drenched in malice, envy, hate, and wicked desires.   There isn't much room for love in the world. But with the Lord – His love appeared in the midst of the darkness of this world. His love was brought to light and shown to humanity in the birth of the infant child – Jesus Christ.  

And here, my friends, is the love of God – lying in the manger is the love of God for you.  You see, in the birth of Jesus, we see the warm-heartedness and favor of God. We see how the Lord wants to treat us as His children.  

And so, if you want to know whether you are loved or not, all you must do is look at the manger and then to the cross to know that your God loves you so much that He came for you in the manger and died for you on the cross.  

If the manger was empty, well… then you might need to worry whether or not the God of the world truly loves you. If there is no blood on the cross, well… then you might need to worry whether or not the God of the world was willing to sacrifice for you.  But dear friends, the manger is not empty, and there is blood on the cross.  

And so, you who feel unloved; you who are burdened by your sin; you who wonder if anyone sees you in this chaotic world… wonder no more. Your Jesus came for you and was laid in a manger for you. Your Jesus sacrificed for you by bleeding on a cross for you. And to make sure that you would know that His birth and His death are especially for you, your Triune God baptized you in His name and thereby connected you to Jesus' life, death, and resurrection. Never forget your baptism is the means by which you are cemented to Jesus, and Jesus is cemented to you.  

So how much are you loved this Christmas day? 

You are loved to the point of the manger. 

You are loved to the point of the cross. 

You are loved to the point of the empty tomb.

You are baptized in love to be clothed in the righteousness of Jesus.  

You are invited with love to the table of the Lord to feast upon forgiveness, life, and salvation.  

God's love is not a positive vibe, a happy thought, or a positive feeling; instead, God's love is a manger, an infant child, a bleeding savior, an empty tomb, a baptismal font, and an altar with His Son's body and blood.  

Baptized Saints, rejoice this morning. You are loved. Christmas is proof of God's love for you - love that is not earned but freely given to you.  

In the name of Jesus. Amen.

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