Loneliness pervades our society today. Jesus came to be with us, driving out isolation and confronting the demonic patterns that keep us from receiving and giving the love of God to one another.
This sermon deals with how Christmas addresses the modern malaise of loneliness. Dan Kent explains for us how grand this problem is as he sites that about 46% of people experience chronic loneliness today. This is a huge jump when compared to only 11% who said they had such an experience in the 1970s. We live in a time when people are supposedly connected to each other, through various social media outlets, however they find themselves in situations where they are not known, they are not embraced for who they are, and they lack a sense of belonging.
What does the coming of Christ have to say about this situation? This is the question for this sermon, and the answer is found in the name given to Jesus, “Emmanuel,” God with us. Jesus came to live in our midst and walk with us in this life. Dan explains that he came to do two things. First off, Jesus accepts us for who we are, where we are. He came and he still comes into our midst to say “You are loved,” you do not have to be different than you are to be in relationship with me.
The second thing is that Jesus challenges us to be more than we currently are. Yes we are loved right where we are, but at the same time, he invites us to not settle for that. He comes alongside us to invite us into abundant life and not settle for the status quo.
In today’s world, people tend to grab hold of one side at the expense of the other. We either tend to love people who are like us and feel loved by people whom we agree with and we castigate those are are not like us. Thus we are constantly challenging people who hold different views to change and then we will accept them. This creates a constant state of tension where no one really feels accepted by anyone else because they are continually measuring whether or not they are in agreement.
Dan illustrates this by siting various situations we face in the political spectrum. We tend to gravitate to those with whom we agree, offering them acceptance, while feeling the need to challenge those with whom we disagree. Thus, we lack the ability to love other people as they are.
This is the way the principalities and powers control us and drive us into further isolation. If everyone is playing this game, then no one is free enough to love other people. Jesus came to break this pattern and we are the people of Jesus who are called to live into Jesus’ new way. We are called to “bear with” each other, which means that we wait on each other to allow each other to grow at their own pace. We cannot expect others to agree with us in every way. Nor can we be expected to agree with them. We have to be patient enough to live with our differences and live in love.
This is especially important for those of us who have been blessed with relational well-being that we can give to others who are lacking in it. Just like those who are wealthy are called to give out of their abundance.
During this Christmas season, let’s practice Emmanuel with each other. Let’s live in God’s presence with us and offer love to those who differ and refuse to play the game of the principalities and the powers that drive us into corners of loneliness.
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