So when we are rejected or ridiculed – it hurts. And we hurt, we move away from the cause of our hurt. We hide our imperfections, our shortcomings. We begin to apply the same pattern to all our relationships, including our relationship with God. Just like the first man and woman, we run and hide from the sound of God’s footsteps because we sense shame. But remember, it is we who are running. God is not – God keeps after us. Christmas is the celebration that God is still coming after us with a passion!
This has been God’s history though. He made a very special promise – a covenant with a small tribe of people who became known as the Jews. He loved them and built them into a great kingdom but over and over again, they broke their side of the covenant. God sent prophets to them to teach them, remind them and warn them.
When the Lord first began speaking to Israel through Hosea, he said to him, “Go and marry a prostitute, so that some of her children will be conceived in prostitution. This will illustrate how Israel has acted like a prostitute by turning against the Lord and worshiping other gods.” So Hosea married Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim, and she became pregnant and gave Hosea a son. Hosea 1:2-3 (NLT)
Then the Lord said to me, “Go and love your wife again, even though she commits adultery with another lover. This will illustrate that the Lord still loves Israel, even though the people have turned to other gods and love to worship them. ” Hosea 3:1 (NLT)
We are writing these things so that you may fully share our joy. This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin. 1 John 1:4-7 (NLT)
Hosea’s life shows us the real heart of what the Incarnation at Christmas is all about. God tells Hosea, “Go, show your love to your wife again…love her as the Lord loves the Israelites (3:1).” In the manger is born God’s son – God has come to buy us back!
God works in unexpected places that we might be tempted to ignore. Most would have given no thought of a young teenager named Mary or a young carpenter named Joseph. God did. The world had no interest in an enslaved people in Egypt called the Hebrews. God did. No one cared much for a prostitute. Hosea did. God did and God still does.
God was not oblivious to grief in our community, the tragedy Connecticut nor what happened in China. God does not miss the fact that 1 child dies every five-seconds from hunger issues. God knows about the 16.6+million AIDS orphans and every 45 secs a child dies of malaria. God knows this recession has stripped many of us of our homes, depleted our 401K plans and increased our debt. We try to run from the truth, hide from the reality but it remains. We may neglect the needs but God does not.
Only when we realize how far we’ve strayed from God’s love can we respond in faith; a faith that leads to loving actions. Jesus came to earth as a tiny baby, in scandalous and humble circumstances. Immanuel – God with us. That is the love we celebrate at Christmas, and the kind of love we are CALLED to show and CAN show in return. Do you really believe God loves you madly, passionately, and unconditionally? What would it mean for us to love others “scandalously,” in a way different from how we show God’s love in the world now?