Skip to content

Christmas Love クリスマスの愛

When God created the world the first thing He said was “Let there be light!” 「光あれ」
And the earth was filled with light.
What happened?
神が世界を創られたとき、初めに言ったのは 「光あれ」でした。
Darkness has entered our world. Something has gone wrong. This world is not the world that God created. Our world has been corrupted. Damaged. Some good things remain! We have the beauty of creation, the love of families and friends and so on. But even the beauty of creation and the love of family and friends can’t hide the fact that we live in a very broken world, as we’ve just seen.

I could give a very, very, very long list of dark episodes and tragedies that stretch back to the beginning of human history to show you that this is not a new problem or an old problem or a religious problem or a cultural problem or an educational problem or an economic problem or a merely social problem.
人類の歴史の起源にまで遡り暗い出来事や悲劇が書かれた長いリストを紹介します、というのはこれが新しい問題 古い問題 宗教的問題 文化的問題 教育問題 経済問題 単なる社会問題ではないということを示したいからです。
[cross off checklist of problems]
And I’m not just referring to war and terrorism. I’m talking about depression and suicide and hikikomoris/recluses and alcoholism and child abuse and pornography and STDs and domestic violence and divorce and deceit and hatred and infidelity and selfishness and pride and I could go on…
It’s a human problem.

And tonight I want to share with you 1. Why we have this darkness in our world and our lives, and 2. What we can do about it.

Why we have this darkness.このような暗闇がなぜあるのか。
The answer to this might surprise you and it might come across at first as superficial and cliched. It’s not.
The primary reason we have darkness in this world and in our lives is because people don’t know how much God loves them. This is the bottom line. This is the essence of the broken human condition. If people truly knew how much God loved them – truly knew – how much – God loved them, our world and our lives would be unrecognisable.

Two factors contribute to this.
Most people don’t know the scriptures. ほとんどの人が聖書を知らない
The Bible is God’s love letter to mankind. It’s one of the primary ways that God has revealed Himself and His love to us. But most people have little idea what the Bible says. And perhaps even worse, a lot people seem to know half of what the Bible says: that is, half verses, half truths, and this only serves to confuse and disappoint.
Let me give one example of this.

i. At Christmas time people often like to quote what the angel said in the Bible: “Peace on earth and goodwill to men” . Really? Then what did we just see in the news? Where is the peace and goodwill? The Bible can’t be true.
But that’s not what the angel said. The angel said, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom he is pleased!”! Luke 2:14/ルカによる福音書2:14
ⅰ.クリスマスのとき人々は聖書の中で天使が言ったことを引用したがります: 「地の上では、人々に平和があるように」。本当でしょうか。私たちはニュースで何を見ますか。どこに平和と善意がありますか。聖書が本当のことを言っているはずがありません。
Woah! This is very different. The question now is no longer ‘Why is there such little peace and goodwill?’, the question is now, ‘How can I receive God’s favour?’!

Without truly knowing the scriptures, we can’t truly know the love of God and we will continue living in error. This is exactly what Jesus said when people asked him why teachings written in the Bible don’t seem to square up with the things happening in the world. He said, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.” Matthew 22:29/マタイによる福音書22:29

This leads us to the second factor why most people don’t know the love of God:
b. Most people don’t know the power of God.

The power of God is broad, it is creative and it is dynamic. We can rightly think of it in terms of forgiveness, healing, prophecy, understanding, moral courage and strength of character. But in general terms, the greatest expression of God’s power is changed lives. Lives that are so changed by the power of God that we can hardly believe it’s the same person.

But there’s one more aspect to the power of God and this brings us back to what I really want to focus on this evening. If you leave here remembering nothing else, I pray that you will remember the words that St Paul wrote to the Ephesian church:

And I pray that you may have power…to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:17-19/エフィソの信徒への手紙3:17-19
18 すべての聖徒と共に、その広さ、長さ、高さ、深さを理解することができ、
19 また人知をはるかに越えたキリストの愛を知って、神に満ちているもののすつべてをもって、あなたがたが満たされるように、と祈る。[Emiko, my English version is slightly edited – a few short phrases have been cut out for brevity. If it’s easy, could you do the same with the Japanese. If it’s tricky, just leave it as is, thanks.]

Can you imagine if the world had the power to grasp this sort of love?!
Our nightly news would look completely different.

One more thing. This “love of Christ”. What does it look like?
What is love? There are so many different ideas of what love is. How can we know exactly what ‘the love of Christ’ is?
God tells us.
The greatest love you can have for your friends is to give your life for them. John 15:13/ヨハネによる福音書15:13
And God Himself demonstrated this very love for us when He entered the world as a helpless baby. This is why we celebrate Christmas. God has come to us!
And God Himself demonstrated this very love for us when He died on the cross for our sins and resurrected again to new life. This is why we celebrate Easter.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8/ローマの信徒への手紙5:8

Jesus said, “For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not die but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to be its judge, but to be its savior.” John 3:16,17/ヨハネによる福音書3:16,17
イエスは言いました、 神はそのひとり子を賜わったほどに、この世を愛して下さった。それは御子を信じる者がひとりも滅びないで、永遠の命を得るためである。

This is love. This is what we celebrate at Christmas.
Not tinsel, not presents, not turkey, not carols, not Christmas trees, not cakes, not Santa Claus, not romance, not Mary, not church…
We celebrate the love of God in all its knowledge and power as displayed in Jesus Christ.

We can celebrate this great news and leave it at that. But you will wake up tomorrow morning after a lovely Christmas and everything will be the same. You will have the same issues to deal with. The same struggles. The same temptations. The same weaknesses and the same shames. The same you! (It’s not just you though – this is common to all humans.)

Christmas is more than a celebration. True Christmas is a participation. Through the Christmas miracle – God becoming a man in the person of Jesus Christ – we can participate in the salvation that God has provided. By believing in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, by inviting Him to be our personal saviour and the Lord of our lives, we receive the forgiveness of all sins which frees us from our old life; and we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit which marks the beginning of our new life.

This is not wishful thinking or a nice idea. This is both a physical and spiritual reality. This is why God came to us in the flesh. He made a physical appearance to teach and demonstrate His love for us. And through His physical death and resurrection from the dead, He won a spiritual victory which we share in when we give our lives to Him.

You need to be filled with God’s love. Tonight I invite you to be filled with God’s love. If you would like to receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour, to turn from sin, to receive the Holy Spirit, to receive the forgiveness of sins, the promise of new life, and to live a life filled with the light and love of God, I invite you to come forward in a minute with everyone else and take communion, marking your entry into a new life in Christ.
[Only the bottom half of the translation below is right. The top half I have changed to the pink above. The green should have been translated last time but please check.]
Let me explain the elements of communion.
The bread and the wine are symbols of the body and blood of Jesus Christ and taking them marks a person’s entrance into and surrender to the body of Christ and the life of His church. If you have never taken communion before or haven’t for a long time but tonight would like to commit or re-commit your life to Christ, I invite you to come forward with the others and receive prayer and the elements.

Christmas is when Jesus Christ was born.
Your Christmas is when Jesus Christ is born in your heart.

Take a moment to examine your lives, to give your lives to God, and when you are ready, please come forward.