Love Your Neighbor (John 1:16-18)

By December 25, our giving spirit is usually spent. Following our feasting and fellowship, we turn our focus to the new year to make resolutions for how we want to better ourselves. For God, the other hand, Christmas is the beginning of generosity. His “generous bounty” isn’t exhausted during Christmas. God continues to pour out "gift after gift after gift” throughout the rest of the story (which we celebrate throughout year). God gives grace through the life, teaching, and miracles of Jesus, through his death and resurrection, through the outpouring of Holy Spirit, and through the ongoing work of the Church. Christmas can feel like a deadline at the end of the year, but it's actually a starting line that kicks off the year-round story of God’s generosity. This is truly the gift that keeps on giving—and so should we.

For the story is open, and we're playing a part. Just as Jesus makes the Father visible, so we make Jesus visible. Specifically, we reveal God by giving ourselves for others, just as God gives himself continually. We can’t have it both ways—enjoying God's gifts while also safeguarding our time, attention, love, and possessions. Why should we even want to? We have already been given everything—the life of God himself! As “we live off his generous bounty,” the risks of love and sacrifice are transformed into the only way to live, because we are learning from Jesus.

This is what it means to be the Church, the Body of Christ which is broken and offered up for the life of the world. Jesus, the “one-of-a-kind God-Expression” is communicated through the Church’s life and work—who we are and what we do together all year long. Stay close to the story by participating in the kind of life-giving works of love that God does among us. Stay close to “the very heart of the Father” by continuing to imitate his generosity and grace. Stay close to Jesus by risking and sacrificing yourself as he did.

So if you’re looking in the mirror as the new year approaches, try tweaking your questions and resolutions a bit: How can I be a “God-Expression?” What specific ways can I share God’s generosity and give myself to others this year? How can I participate in God’s story and invite others to do the same?

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Tomorrow on the Daily Connection: Who Is My Neighbor?

About the Author

Nick Chambers is the Director of Spiritual Formation at Calvary UMC