What makes you feel loved more than anything else?
This Sunday, we continued Advent by focusing on how Jesus’ birth transforms how we understand love.
What do you think of when you hear the word love? Do you think of love more as an emotion, action, or idea? How does this impact how & to whom you show love?
Read John 1:1-14 & 3:16-17. In these passages, John eloquently depicts divine love as being central to Christ’s coming in the incarnation, highlighting it as a choice & sacrificial action. To do so, John uses the Greek term for love called agape, which is about worldview, commitment, & choice rather than emotion or feelings. Agape describes committing to look at others as having inherent worth & choosing to seek their good regardless of their response or our judgments.
Begin by reflecting on the concept of agape love itself.
Do you tend to think of love as a verb or as something tied to your will & actions?
Why must a healthy definition of love transcend being purely about our emotions? How does agape help us love people even when we may not feel positive things about them?
Next, reflect on how Christ’s incarnation reflects this agape love of God.
How was Christ’s incarnation a sacrificial act? What did Christ have to give up to become like us? Consider reading Philippians 2:1-11 if you’d like some extra inspiration.
What does Christ’s willingness to become fully human reveal about God’s love for us?
How might Christ’s full identification with our humanity change the way that we think about & respond to the brokenness of ourselves & others in the world?
Close by reflecting on how Advent Love can reorient you during this season. Consider the truth that, in the incarnation, Christ revealed what kinds of human beings God calls us to be.
What individuals or groups of people do you struggle to feel love for? Where have you let this lead you to fall short of loving them like God does?
How might the incarnation & Christ’s example of agape love show you a different way of responding to such people? What actions do you need to take to better reflect Advent Love into the world during this season?
Getting Out of the Hole
This week, reflect on the teaching from Sunday morning.
- How do you define love? What is it? What isn’t it?
- Reflect on the concept of agape love defined above. Do you embrace fully that this is how God sees & responds to you? Why or why not? How might doing so help you embrace God’s love in the good, bad, & ugly parts of your life?
- Over the past few years, where have you struggled to extend agape love? Identify any groups or individuals. Write them down.
- Next, reflect on how Advent Love might change your posture within & towards these people. How might God’s Agape Love for you change how you see & treat them?
- Commit to reflecting on Christ’s arrival & Advent Love over this next week. See if that impacts how you engage these hard areas of your life during this Advent season.
Journal, reflect, & pray on how God might be speaking to you through each week’s teaching. Share your experience with your growth group next week!
Matthew Commentary by Stanley Hauerwas
Simply Jesus by NT Wright
Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent & Christmas (Advent Devotional)
Coming Up This Week:*
Saturday, December 24th: Join us next Saturday at 4:00 & 6:00PM for our Christmas Eve gatherings!
* Please see mye3.org for details.