"A Love that Makes Room for Difference"
Read 1 Peter 4:8-10
I love reading about the Danish practice of Hygge. Because the winters in Denmark are dark and frigid, the people of this country have adopted a practice of coziness. They light candles and make hot chocolate and play games all evening as they laugh the night away or have deep conversations as they sit around the fireplace. We focused last week on lighting a candle and allowing hope to change the atmosphere of our hearts and homes, but this is only the beginning. One of the deepest and most important parts of Advent is that it reminds us to love one another, and to expand our ability to love and make room for our differences. Peter writes that we should “above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” While we may not be able to invite a lot of people into our homes this winter, we can focus on learning to love one another more deeply.
Think for a moment about the people you dislike. Yes — dislike. What kind of behavior presses your buttons? What topic of conversation can lead you to want to stop being friends with someone? What kind of differences in opinion, or culture, or doctrine, are the ones where you begin to feel your blood boil and anger rise up to the surface? Or, on an everyday, ordinary level, what are your pet peeves? For those of us who are part of the Church, the global Kingdom of God, we are called to love one another deeply, because love can cover the sins (or just the mere annoyances) that we see in others, and most especially, the sins that others bring out in ourselves. Maybe, just maybe, God is calling us to reach out and love someone who we normally wouldn’t invite to the party — someone whose differences seem so extreme that we would prefer only to say hi to them every once in a while at work, or at school, and then move on back to the people we enjoy. What would it look like this Christmas to make room in our hearts for the kind of radical love that Jesus calls for?
Take a moment of silence to ask the Lord to bring someone to mind who you can pray for, and possibly reach out to, this week. Maybe it’s someone you have a hard time getting along with, or someone who you just forget to reach out to because you don’t have that much in common. Whoever God brings to mind, commit to pray for them for five minutes a day this week, and see if God begins to shape your heart differently toward that person. God calls us to more than just the cozy practice of Hygge — he calls us to see the image of God in everyone, even those we wouldn’t normally hang out with.