Subscribe to our blog to receive two advent reflections each week – on the theme of Love for this third week of Advent. All Nations’ missionaries, hub staff, and friends have contributed to help you connect with Jesus as you prepare to celebrate His coming.
A Barbecue with Friends
by Joshua Johnson | Advent Week 3: Love
“God gave me some of His love for the Syrian people, so I came to live and work among you.” This is something I said over and over again to Syrian refugees when we sat down for tea or coffee after they asked me why I was there. It started out as a good thing to say to see if people were open to spiritual conversations. It ended up being true.
I found love for Syrian people when they stopped being projects and started being friends. When I was able to barbecue kabobs with Hassan. When I was able to enjoy a midnight holiday meal with Abu Mohammed. These friendships were real. Not just some vague idea of love. A practical demonstration of love.
Jesus Came Near
This is what Jesus did for us 2000 years ago when “The Word became flesh and moved into the neighborhood.” (John 1:1 MSG). I love how Eugene Peterson puts this. Jesus isn’t only God becoming flesh, which is the ultimate picture of love. We are Jesus’ friend; a neighbor; someone close. He entered the world moving into the neighborhood. And He went back to the Father right after He had a barbeque on the beach with His friends.
One of the last things Jesus does before ascending to the Father was to cook some fish and bread over a fire on the beach for His friends. The love He has for His friends is deep. Jesus didn’t see us as His project. Jesus wanted to reconcile us to God. Jesus wants to restore us back to the Garden. Back to the time when humans would take a stroll with God in the evening.
Friendship with God and Others
I want Jesus to call me friend. Just as I call Hassan and Abu Mohammed friend. Jesus tells us how this is possible in John 15:12-15 “This is my commandment: love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.” (NLT)
I serve a God that moved into the neighborhood, so that He could call me His friend. Will you move into the neighborhood and have a barbecue with friends? Will you be the embodiment of Jesus to the world? Will you love your neighbor like Jesus loved us?
Image from jw.org