God Running is a place for anyone who wants to (or even anyone who wants to want to) love Jesus more deeply, follow Jesus more closely, and love people the way Jesus wants us to.
It’s late Christmas Eve. Nate and Anastasia are down from Seattle, staying with us for a few days. Gabe, Charise, and Andrew came over and spent most of the day. We worshiped together as a family today. We had a long deep discussion about a sensitive social issue. And we opened our stocking stuffer gifts. It was a beautiful day celebrating Jesus’ coming to Earth and living among us.
So tomorrow is Christmas Day, and because this blog post will be published on Christmas day, I want to share 10 reasons I’m so very very glad Jesus came to planet Earth. (Thank you friends and family members for your contributions to this list!)
1) His Presence: This list is going to include a number of gifts Jesus gave us as a result of his coming, but for me the best gift of all is Jesus himself. When he died on the cross the veil in the temple that separated the Holy of Holies, the place where God was present, was rent in two. As a result, in some mysterious way, intimacy with Jesus and our Father is now available to you and to me in a way that wasn’t there previously. When I walk and pray. When I lay on my face in my closet and pray. When I sing a praise song to Him. When I take communion. When I read the words of God. When I serve Jesus. He’s there, with me. I can experience His real presence. No matter what happens in my life and in yours, we’ll never be alone again, ever. Never alone again. That connection, that intimacy with Jesus, that’s the very biggest reason I’m glad Jesus came. (Matthew 27:51, also see previous post 10 Ways You Can Be With Jesus) (The rest of the reasons are listed below in no particular order.)
2) Jesus Changed the Narrative: “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” In the Old Testament Moses gave us the law and sometimes when I read certain select parts of the Old Testament I can become bewildered about God’s nature. Sometimes I can forget God has eternity in mind when He does what He does, or, even if I do remember eternity as part of the equation, I can still wonder about Who God is. But as John Chrysostom wrote in the quote below, Jesus came to remove all doubt. When Philip asked Jesus to show him the Father, Jesus said, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” And God communicated the same in Hebrews 1:3 where we read that Jesus “is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature . . .” So another reason I’m so very glad Jesus came is because he showed us what God is truly like. (John 1:17, John 14:9, Hebrews 1:3)
“Nature here rested, while the Will of God labored. O ineffable grace! The Only Begotten, Who is before all ages, Who cannot be touched or be perceived, Who is simple, without body, has now put on my body, that is visible and liable to corruption. For what reason? That coming amongst us he may teach us, and teaching, lead us by the hand to the things that men cannot see. For since men believe that the eyes are more trustworthy than the ears, they doubt of that which they do not see, and so He has deigned to show Himself in bodily presence, that He may remove all doubt.”–John Chrysostom
3) Hope: For some of you reading this right now life is hard. And for some others, life is beyond hard, life is miserable now and it looks like it will stay that way until you die. This brings me to the next reason I’m so very glad Jesus came. Because Jesus came, there’s hope beyond the misery seen by so many on a daily basis. Something extraordinary happened when Jesus came to our planet. Jesus’ impact was so powerful the world’s calendar hinges on it. There is all of time before Jesus came, and all of time after Jesus came. And he promised the hope of eternal life, with Him, in heaven, after our time here is over. When things get really bad, that gives us hope. Jesus said, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” So hope in what comes after death, hope in the eternal life Jesus speaks of, is one of the reasons I’m so glad Jesus came. (John 3:36)
4) Forgiveness of Sins: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Jesus did not come to condemn the world but he came so the world might be saved through him. Because Jesus came and died on the cross in my place, I know God wants me to be forgiven and I know Jesus did his amazing redemptive work on the cross to afford me the opportunity to be forgiven. So forgiveness of my sins is one of the very biggest reasons I’m so very glad Jesus came. (1 John 1:9, John 3:17)
5) Jesus Teaches Me to Forgive: As important as forgiveness of my sins is, I’m especially grateful for the way Jesus teaches me to forgive others. I’ve written before about how forgiveness is the personality trait most strongly associated with happiness. Jesus taught me to open up wide to forgiving others. He instructs me to forgive 77×7 times. And when I live this way, I can experience the abundant life Jesus wants for me. So another reason I’m so very glad Jesus came is because of the way he teaches me to forgive. (Love Like Jesus–Forgiveness and Paralysis: Chapter 25, Matthew 18:21-22)
6) The Way: Jesus shows me the way. Jesus, was and is the perfect man. There’s never been a perfect man before him or after. Jesus is what perfection looks like. And the picture of his life is there for me to study and examine in the Gospels. So another reason I’m so very grateful Jesus came is because he shows me the very best way to live.
7) The Church: When the church is what the church is supposed to be, it’s God’s kingdom on earth. It’s heaven come down. My experience in Jesus’ church has been overwhelmingly positive. One of the best parts of my life is worshipping together with my family, and, with my family in Christ. The deep relationships with my brothers and sisters in Christ that I’ve experienced over the years have been some of the best ways God has communicated His love to me. So another reason I’m so glad Jesus came is that I get to engage with Jesus’ Church. (Matthew 12:46-50)
8) The Holy Spirit: Jesus told his disciples, “Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.” I love God’s Holy Spirit. I crave God’s Holy Spirit. God knows I need His Holy Spirit to love Him and to love people the way He wants me to. So I’m very grateful Jesus sent God’s Holy Spirit to us. One drop of His Living Water is better than any great quantity of anything the world has to offer. (John 16:7)
9) Marriage: Before Jesus I didn’t really understand marriage. Now I know there’s a bigger story here than just my relationship with my wife. My marriage is a picture of Jesus’ marriage to His bride the Church. Everything I do in my own marriage communicates the bigger story of Jesus’ marriage relationship with His Church. That message is communicated to my wife, and to my kids, and to anyone else who’s watching. As important as my marriage relationship is, that bigger picture is even more important. So I’m glad Jesus came so I can have a marriage that’s much deeper than just a relationship between a man and a woman.
10) Love: Without it we are as a noisy gong, Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13. And Jesus was anything but a noisy gong. Jesus was Love incarnate. Jesus is about reconciliation and the abolishment of hostilities. Jesus commanded us to love our enemies. He told us to pray for those who persecute us. He said, if we love those who love us, what reward do we have? Earlier in this list we saw Jesus is the Way. And it turns out, Jesus’ way is love. So the love of Jesus, the love he has for me, the way he communicates God’s love for me, and the way he fills me with his love so I can love others, love, Jesus’ love is yet another reason I’m so glad, so very glad Jesus came to Earth and lived among us. (Matthew 5:43-48)
“Father, we thank You for sending Your Son to us. We pray You will fill us with his love, his love for You and his love for the people You put in our lives. We pray You will help us to walk the way Jesus walked to the greatest degree possible. We pray that as we celebrate Christ’s coming this Christmas, You will be pleased with the way we express our love for him.
“It’s in his name we pray.
Love Like Jesus by Kurt Bennett, now available on Amazon!
Love Like Jesus: How Jesus Loved People (and how you can love like Jesus)
Love Like Jesus begins with the story of how after a life of regular church attendance and Bible study, Bennett was challenged by a pastor to study Jesus. That led to an obsessive seven year deep dive. After pouring over Jesus’ every interaction with another human being, he realized he was doing a much better job of studying Jesus’ words than he was following Jesus’ words and example. The honest and fearless revelations of Bennett’s own moral failures affirm he wrote this book for himself as much as for others.
Love Like Jesus examines a variety of stories, examples, and research, including:
- Specific examples of how Jesus communicated God’s love to others.
- How Jesus demonstrated all five of Gary Chapman’s love languages (and how you can too).
- The story of how Billy Graham extended Christ’s extraordinary love and grace toward a man who misrepresented Jesus to millions.
- How to respond to critics the way Jesus did.
- How to love unlovable people the way Jesus did.
- How to survive a life of loving like Jesus (or how not to become a Christian doormat).
- How Jesus didn’t love everyone the same (and why you shouldn’t either).
- How Jesus guarded his heart by taking care of himself–he even napped–and why you should do the same.
- How Jesus loved his betrayer Judas, even to the very end.
With genuine unfiltered honesty, Love Like Jesus, shows you how to live a life according to God’s definition of success: A life of loving God well, and loving the people around you well too.
A life of loving like Jesus.