I am a big fan of NCIS. I really love the stories they tell and I love the cohesiveness of the team. The binding agent (pun intended) of the entire group is its leader, Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs (played by Mark Harmon). I like Gibbs. He is my favorite character because he is efficient with the way he dispatches his duties, he knows when to be stern and when to comfort, and he knows his people- their needs, their wants, and their goals. However, my favorite part about Gibbs is his rules. I think it’s good to have rules, a code if you will, to live by. To quote an old Aaron Tippin song, “You’ve got to stand for something, or you’ll fall for anything.” Anyhow, Gibbs has a list of rules that he lives by and he tries to impart these rules of wisdom to his team throughout the series. I have fashioned myself my own set of rules to live by. Rules like “I will not lie for you….so don’t ask,” or “Don’t poke the bear.” One of, if not my favorite rule that I have is rule #7- “Say I love you as much as possible, but mean it.”
I’m THAT guy. Yes I admit it. I am the mushy sentimental guys that tells his wife I love you 12 times before he hangs up. I am THAT guy who makes all the emotionally detached people uncomfortable because I am too lovey with them and they feel really awkward when I tell them that I love them. They usually respond with that very awkward….”uhhh thanks?’ I am THAT guy. Oh yes, and the hugs come with it. I love to find the people who don’t like to be hugged, and hug them every chance I get. Oh yes, I am THAT guy. I tell people that I love them- AND I MEAN IT. I will tell them on the phone, in person, over text (and there IS a BIG difference between texting “love you” and “I love you). I admit that I have made more than a few people a little uncomfortable.
But love is so important. Notice that I did not say to throw it around randomly or recklessly. Love’s power is so important in our lives. You see most of us have made it something weird. When I look at one of my youth and say I love you, that is not the same thing as me telling my wife that I love her. That is the beauty of love, it has so many uses and that is the way that God intended it be, a world that loves each other. Tonight we look at the fourth candle in the advent wreath, and of course it is the candle of LOVE. This candle is very self explanatory, but ironically enough, it seems to be the one concept where most people struggle. The world has redefined love and made it into something that it’s not. Love has been thrown around in order to get something that someone wants. Love has been used to deceive, to lie, to cheat, to hurt, and to wound. I want to see love, REAL love come back to the forefront of our society. Our world has gotten so backwards about the way we approach other people. Most people will hear something or read a message and then try to figure our how they have just been insulted. Love is not confrontational. Love was brought to this planet from day 1 and God’s intended purpose was to love us and if we are called to reflect Him, we need to be about the business of love instead of the business of hate or judgment. You see the greatest love story ever told was when Jesus came to manger only to leave that bed, become a man, and die for things he didn’t do. It began with Love.
So what is this love that God gave us? Paul defines it for us in 1 Corinthians chapter 13 when he says:
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends…” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)
Nothing attests more to this candle for advent than the words found in John chapter 3 when Jesus says those famous words, “For God so Love the world that He gave his only Son, that whosoever believes in Him, shall not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His son into the world to condemn it, but through Him it might be saved” (John 3:16-17).
Love is not the negative thing that the world has tried to make it. Love is the greatest gift ever given to the human race. A love that never fails, a love that makes all things work together for our good, a love that is strong enough to bind the universe together, but delicate enough to mend the most sensitive of wounds. As you think of that fourth candle and as you go throughout the rest of advent
, please understand that it is the love of God that sent His son to be born, to live and serve, only to die for people who could not love like He did. Oh, and by the way….I love you!
In Christ Alone,
Rev. Bro. Coach