Advent: God So Loved The World

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Advent might be summarized by John 3:16:   “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.”

In daily life it is often easy to lose sight of the fact that we are always in the hands of an infinitely loving God who became one of us, His creatures, as a result of that love.  Men often fear and deny God I think out of a profound belief that they are unworthy of this love.  Peter, the prince of the apostles, after meeting Christ asked Him to leave him because Peter was a sinful man.  In our times, drenched in cynicism and wallowing in sin, love is in short supply it seems, and the idea of a loving God is one that many of us flee from and attempt to futilely deny.  This attitude calls to mind this passage from the Screwtape letters:

The truth is I slipped by mere carelessness into saying that the Enemy really loves the humans. That, of course, is an impossibility. He is one being, they are distinct from Him. Their good cannot be His. All His talk about Love must be a disguise for something else—He must have some real motive for creating them and taking so much trouble about them. The reason one comes to talk as if He really had this impossible Love is our utter failure to out that real motive. What does He stand to make out of them? That is the insoluble question. I do not see that it can do any harm to tell you that this very problem was a chief cause of Our Father’s quarrel with the Enemy. When the creation of man was first mooted and when, even at that stage, the Enemy freely confessed that he foresaw a certain episode about a cross, Our Father very naturally sought an interview and asked for an explanation. The Enemy gave no reply except to produce the cock-and-bull story about disinterested love which He has been circulating ever since. This Our Father naturally could not accept. He implored the Enemy to lay His cards on the table, and gave Him every opportunity. He admitted that he felt a real anxiety to know the secret; the Enemy replied “I wish with all my heart that you did”. It was, I imagine, at this stage in the interview that Our Father’s disgust at such an unprovoked lack of confidence caused him to remove himself an infinite distance from the Presence with a suddenness which has given rise to the ridiculous enemy story that he was forcibly thrown out of Heaven. Since then, we have begun to see why our Oppressor was so secretive. His throne depends on the secret. Members of His faction have frequently admitted that if ever we came to understand what He means by Love, the war would be over and we should re-enter Heaven. And there lies the great task. We know that He cannot really love: nobody can: it doesn’t make sense. If we could only find out what He is really up to! Hypothesis after hypothesis has been tried, and still we can’t find out. Yet we must never lose hope; more and more complicated theories, fuller and fuller collections of data, richer rewards for researchers who make progress, more and more terrible punishments for those who fail—all this, pursued and accelerated to the very end of time, cannot, surely, fail to succeed.

Advent powerfully reminds Men again of the coming of God among us in an act of overwhelming love.  Hate and Despair are popular illusions that Men use to hide from the love that God showers upon us each day, but Advent tells us that the true reality of the human condition is one of Love and Hope, no matter how much fallen Man may deny it.

He so loved us that for our sake He was made man in time, through Whom all times were made; was in the world less in years than His servants, though older than the world itself in His eternity; was made man, Who made man; was created of a mother, whom He created; was carried by hands which He formed; nursed at the breasts which He had filled; cried in the manger in wordless infancy, He the Word without Whom all human eloquence is mute.  Saint Augustine-Sermon 188

 

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3 Responses to Advent: God So Loved The World

  • Thank you Don! I have always been intrigued by the concept that many men spend their lives hiding from the love of God. Francis Thompson touched on this in his unforgettable The Hound of Heaven:

    I fled Him down the nights and down the days
    I fled Him down the arches of the years
    I fled Him down the labyrinthine ways
    Of my own mind, and in the midst of tears
    I hid from him, and under running laughter.
    Up vistaed hopes I sped and shot precipitated
    Adown titanic glooms of chasme d hears
    From those strong feet that followed, followed after
    But with unhurrying chase and unperturbe d pace,
    Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
    They beat, and a Voice beat,
    More instant than the feet:
    All things betray thee who betrayest me.

    I pleaded, outlaw–wise by many a hearted casement,
    curtained red, trellised with inter-twining charities,
    For though I knew His love who followe d,
    Yet was I sore adread, lest having Him,
    I should have nought beside.
    But if one little casement parted wide,
    The gust of his approach would clash it to.
    Fear wist not to evade as Love wist to pursue.
    Across the margent of the world I fled,
    And troubled the gold gateways of the stars,
    Smiting for shelter on their clange d bars,
    Fretted to dulcet jars and silvern chatter
    The pale ports of the moon.

    http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/the-hound-of-heaven/

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