In the Advent devotional by Nick Baines called Freedom is Coming: From Advent to Epiphany with the prophet Isaiah, there is a wonderful passage about love. In it, Baines challenges our concept of love. When the circumstances suggest defeat, what do we say about the Lord’s love? Do we call it steadfast? Or do we consider “defeated” circumstances an insult, like rubbing salt in the wound of our loss? Baines says we may feel insulted if our “concept of love is weak and sentimental” (2019, p. 90).
What comes to mind when you see this phrase, look to love? Is love a romantic notion for you? Or, is love Jesus Christ? These are powerful questions to contend with as believers/disciples/sons because our humanity constructs images and ideals. Is Jesus our ideal of love?
The verses above, Hebrews 12:1-2, follow the famous faith chapter Hebrews 11. Hebrews 11 runs down a list of people sometimes called the heroes of the faith or who make up the faith hall of fame. We learn about their stand, and that some died believing without receiving the end hope of their faith. It’s a real wake up call.
Then we get to Hebrews 12, and receive lessons and a challenge in the first two verses.
We are part of a grand company of faith (of believers in God, and in God’s promises).
Sin and weight are cumbersome and binding; let them go.
A contest (race) is before us and requires endurance to run.
Our posture while running — look to Jesus. (**THE CHALLENGE**)
Jesus is the founder and perfecter (author and finisher, KJV) of our faith. We need Jesus to believe.
Jesus’ victorious example for the joy set before him — endured the cross, despised the shame, now seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
I exhort us, Dear Ones, to examine our images and ideals attached to LOVE. In looking to love — the beginning and end of our stories — we look to Jesus. He is full of compassion, a man acquainted with grief and sorrow. He understands better than we might think. He is also our God, wrapped in flesh, with a love so pure that he wanted to walk in our shoes on his way to redeem us. WOW.
Can we just ponder on that a while? And renew our minds to that truth of our redemption in Jesus Christ? Wherever our gaze has fallen, I pray we lift up our heads. I pray we look up and into the face of our Lord and Savior. I pray when we look to love — whether the extension is to love ourselves or to love our neighbors — we look to HIM. Selah.
Reference: Baines, N. (2019). Freedom is Coming: From Advent to Epiphany with the prophet Isaiah. London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (SPCK).
Dr. Shaunta Scroggins is the founder of The Bereans’ Commentary.