Deep Woes, Enduring Hope

In this, we are reminded of God’s steadfast love for his people. We rejoice that our redemption in Christ is so plentiful that it covers the sins of our past, present, and future. For, we are a people who have received the gift of God’s grace in Christ, who has redeemed us from all our iniquities, and he is the God who hears our cries, answers our prayers, sustains us moment by moment, and gives us hope, even in the depths of woe.

Light in the Darkness

Therefore, we must look to the light to know the truth and expose and silence the lies of darkness by shining the light. Darkness says that you are defined by your desires. Light says your identity is in Christ (Gal. 2:20), who is light. Darkness says that you are defined by your past. Light says that you are a new creation in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17), who is light. Darkness says you are defined by what you’ve done. Light says that you are known by whose you are (1 John 3:1), a child of light. Darkness wants you to believe there is no light. Light says that the Lord has “called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Pet. 2:9).

Our Peace Offering

But it is not in our sinful state that God is pleased but in the sinless sacrifice of his Son, whom he has given as the greatest gift of all. As John wrote to the church, “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10). In Christ, our peace offering, we have been given the gift of peace with God forever. There is no greater Christmas gift than that.

Joy in My Heart

Sometimes life can feel unbearable. Whether it be the anxiety of a situation, conflict with people, or restless worry over tomorrow, we can easily grow frustrated even cynical, wondering where has the joy of living gone? We have all likely felt this way before, perhaps even today. But sometimes it can be difficult to express what we are feeling, to others, to ourselves, and even to God. But God has neither created nor redeemed us to wallow in the weight of our worries but desires that we cry out to him, giving us not only the privilege but the poetry too.

Loved to Love

Consider our passage today in Leviticus. He who is holy calls his people to be holy, like Father like child, a set apartness of and for God. What follows is a less succinct almost lyrical expansion of the Ten Commandments, an elaboration on what it means to love God and examples of what it looks like to love our neighbor. For example, it may surprise us to find that despite the thousands of years that separate us from ancient Israel, how Israel is commanded to love their neighbor is remarkably relevant for us today. So, if I too may summarize, loving our neighbor means loving generously, honestly, equitably, justly, and reasonably.

Peace in Christ

As God promised, so he provided, giving “His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16 NASB). In Christ, he has given us his abiding peace through the provision of his Spirit. In Christ, he has given us his means of grace abiding in his peace. In Christ, he has prepared his kingdom that we may know eternal peace.

More Than Happiness

I wonder how many Christians lead joyless lives because they wallow in the weight of their past sins. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Repent, confess, ask for forgiveness (early and often), and pray for joy. Therefore, we are to consider the trials of this life pure joy, more than happiness, for God is at work in us for our good and his glory.

The Bond of Peace

In other words, maintaining peace in the local church is not a cause to fight for but an act of worshipful service to our Triune God. As we live out our faith in Christ in the local church “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,” the “unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” is revealed.