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     Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart.For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. 1 Pet. 1:22-23

Dear Lord Jesus, what a great Scripture with which to begin (and continue) this day… It’s only because you came into the world for us that I have any clue about what loving well—having a “sincere love,” looks like. And it’s only because you lived for us and died for us that I have any experience of being loved deeply from the heart—your heart. It’s really quite overwhelming…

O joy beyond all delighting’s; O peace beyond all understandings; O hope beyond all imaginings—Jesus loves me deeply from his heart; and there’s nothing I can do about it. I can’t add to his love for me and I can’t diminish his love for me. I can simply enjoy it, be changed by it, and share it with others. Good news of great joy, indeed!

Lord Jesus, I never could have “purified myself.” I never could have gained a relationship with God through purging’s and penance, and promises of doing more and trying harder. The only purity I have, I have in you.

That’s what Advent is all about—your coming to do for us what we could never do for ourselves—even given a gazillion chances. “Born that man no more may die, born to raise the sons of earth, born to give them second birth—Hark! The herald angels sing, ‘Glory to the newborn King!'”

It’s only because I was given the “second birth”—only because I was born again of the “imperishable seed” of grace, that I discovered my need of the gospel and was able to obey the truth of the gospel by believing it. You get all the credit, Jesus, from beginning to end—salvation is of the Lord!

So as I celebrate your incarnation this early morning, I surrender to its implications. Love in me and love through me, Jesus. There’s no other way I will love anybody well. Make my love for my brothers and sisters sincere and observable. Teach me how to love deeply from my heart, just as you love us, so passionately and gladly, from yours. So very Amen I pray, in your holy and loving name.

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Scotty Smith

Scotty Smith is the founding pastor of Christ Community Church in Franklin, Tennessee. You can follow him on Twitter.

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