Gary Horton | The Christmas Message of Radical Love

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Christmas, 2019.

We made it! Despite all the vitriol, all the polarization, all the seething, name-calling, tweet-spewing, gut-wrenching, fit-inducing politics of this year – still, we made it again to Christmas.

Christmas – the season of joy. Of quiet introspection. Of “peace on earth and good will towards men.” It’s peace most of us want, and at times like now – peace, civility, and love toward one another is in far more limited supply than times past.

What better a time than Christmas to get real about the peace and love and caring for people, which that subject of Christmas actually taught? This might seem like radical politics on a non-political day – but this isn’t politics. 

It’s what the Spirit of Christmas… is. What follows are those very things taught by that baby born this day we’re celebrating.

So, let’s get to it:

A story taught by Jesus, Son of God:

“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 

“But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.’ 

“Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers? He said, ‘The one who showed him mercy.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do likewise.’”

“Go and do likewise.” Help the most vulnerable among us. Do the uncomfortable stuff. This story of the Good Samaritan happily reminds me of all the good people working with Bridge to Home and other efforts focused on assisting the neediest in our community. Sadly, the same story also brings shame when considering the human devastation we’re willing to tolerate at our borders and on our streets and in our riverbeds.

Said Jesus, Son of God:

“Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

Here again… we’re to care for “the least of these” – the most vulnerable in our midst.

Said Jesus, Son of God:

“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”

Lord knows, we need more peacemakers…

Said Jesus, Son of God:

“If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”

Forget about our boastful pride…

Said Jesus, Son of God:

“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.” 

“In the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

Christmas is a great time to measure ourselves on just how we judge and value others.

Said Jesus, Son of God:

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Jesus makes it crystal clear here. We’ve got to get our sincere love on, if we expect to be viewed as real Christians.

And. while this isn’t a direct quote of Jesus, it’s appropriate today:

“1 John 3:16-18 ‘If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.’”

“How can the love of God be in us,” if we have no pity for those in need?

For the “love of God” — this Christmas let’s now live faithfully in actions and in truth – not just in words or clever speech or political posturing.

As radical as Jesus sounds, this is what He taught and it’s the way we’re supposed to live, and it’s not a conceptual thing and not particularly open to debate. This isn’t just a Sunday thing. Not just a “listen to sermon and raise our arms in the air and praise the Lord,” thing. But rather, it’s about living, in real everyday life, in the real world, with real actions, real money, real devotion, those teachings we’re taught in the Christian faith, and which we honor through Christmas.

Living this way is the actual, “Christmas Spirit.”

Merry Christmas, and may we have a wonderful and “loving-in-deeds,” New Year.

Gary Horton’s “Full Speed to Port!” has appeared in The Signal since 2006. The opinions expressed in his column do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Signal or its editorial board.

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