Love permeated the creation of the world. The Father worked in perfect harmony with the Word as God spoke fresh matter out of the void and the Spirit hovered over the chaos, ready for action. Love was there, within the Godhead, as it had been before the foundation of the world (John 17:24). Indeed, God’s love for his own glorious wisdom drove the work project as he shaped the mountains and bounded the seas (Proverbs 8:22-31). The beneficiaries of this tidal wave of affection, Adam and Eve, enjoyed a custom-made habitat where they too could create, shape, commune, and join in the love of God’s singular glory.
But when our first parents turned their affections self-ward, all the love was sucked out of the atmosphere. Their willful rebellion against God who is love left them loveless. This manifested in shame aimed at themselves and betrayal of one another. And into that void, that chaos, came a new brand of God’s love which was as spectacular as the love that fueled the creation of the world: redeeming love. It was a love that responded to an act of treason by making a promise of blessing. Instead of leaving his image bearers to the wiles of the serpent, God promised that the woman’s seed would crush its head (Genesis 3:15).
Since that moment in Eden, God’s redeeming love for his people has shaped the story. He appeared, uninvited, promising Abraham not only that he would receive great blessings but also that he would be a channel of great blessings. These words were as loving and powerful as “Let there be light.” Indeed, as Abraham’s promised descendants prepared to enter the promised land, Moses reminded them of the undeserved love of Yahweh, their God. “It was not because you were more in number than any other people that Yahweh set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because Yahweh loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that Yahweh has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt” (Deuteronomy 7:7–8).
Such is the logic of redeeming love. God loves us because he loves us. It is as inexplicable and sublime as the creation of something out of nothing. And nowhere is this love more profound than in the incarnation. God arrived to dwell among his people, not in a cloud of smoke or pillar of fire or tabernacle or temple, but in the flesh. God wanted to commune with us, not only for 33 years as Jesus of Nazareth, but for all eternity. So he suited up to crush the head of the serpent, putting on flesh that could be crucified, a body that could be broken, and blood that could be shed in the ultimate act of redeeming love.
To receive this love–not only in conversion but day after day–requires deep humility and trust. I must bow to the logic of redeeming love, that God loves me and wants to commune with me forever for no other reason than he does. I cannot hold onto anything I am or have done to explain the extent of his sacrifice to rescue me. It is what it is, and if I am to enjoy this love, I must release my efforts to find affirmation, affection, security, and belonging on my terms. I must embrace this love as the undeserved blessing that it is and purpose to bless others with it.
Let us honor the Christ child by approaching the manger with open hands that are ready to receive God’s love, sacrifice, and presence. May this ongoing act of faith keep us from the serpent’s empty promises and free us to love well until our Creator and Redeemer brings us into his eternal home.