A love that sets people free

This Advent season, we have the opportunity to reflect on this deep and incredible commitment God has made – becoming human. We’ll consider four areas where Christ’s coming creates a new paradigm for the way we live.

Our theme in week three is Mindset. Christ’s example of humility (by lowering himself to human form) compels us to put others before ourselves. Out of love and service, our mindset shifts from ourselves to a focus on the interests of others.

A love that sets people free

Growing up, I spent every summer in northern Idaho in a cabin my great- grandfather built. It was pretty rustic but we loved it and the kids we grew up with on the bay have stayed our friends for life.There was one young man who scared us though. His name was Phil and he was a few years older than we were. He spent most of his time studying and reading and he didn’t have much patience with our favorite game called “Washington Punch.”

Phil went on to get a Ph.D. in mathematics and became a revered scholar and professor at Ohio State University. One summer we heard Phil was getting married. The whole bay expected to meet a feminine Phil—brilliant but aloof and unapproachable. All we knew about her was that she had a Ph.D. in French literature.

We were shocked when Barb showed up. She taught us French games and sang French songs around the campfire. We loved her and tried to understand why she loved Phil.

Fast forward 25 years. Jim and I were living in California and we get a call
from Phil saying that he and Barb were in the area and would like to stop by. I was terrified, but before I could stop him, I heard Jim say, “Sure, come on over.” When they arrived, Phil hugged us both. He asked thoughtful questions and laughed hard with us at old memories. As soon as they left, I got on the phone with my sister and asked, “What happened to Phil?” She laughed and wisely said “Phil has lived with love for 25 years now.That sets people free.”

I’ve so often thought how Phil’s growth models the way we are transformed spiritually. As we live within God’s sure and faithful love, two things happen. We become more and more impressed by the depth of our sin. At the same time, we are less and less distressed by it. We’re free to live with an honest and very realistic view of ourselves, which is the root of humility. It becomes easy to admit our mistakes and easy to repent. No need to beat ourselves up when we fail.
It’s no surprise. We are also free to quit trying to hit self-esteem home runs all the time. What matters is what God has done. We live with Love and that sets people free.

How has living in Christ’s love enabled you to focus less on yourself and more on loving others?

Story by Beth Pocock

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