Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God. 1 Pet. 1:22-23

Dear Lord Jesus, this is an awesome morning: good coffee, Christmas music playing, and a Scripture about loving well. It’s only because of Advent that I have the slightest clue about what loving well looks like. And it’s only because you lived for me and died for me that I have any experience of being loved deeply from the heart—your heart. You are a most wonderful, merciful Savior.

I need to preach this good news to my heart as this day begins, and continue: Oh joy beyond all delightings; Oh peace beyond all understandings; Oh hope beyond all imaginings—Jesus loves you deeply from his heart, and there’s nothing you can do about it. You can’t add to his love for you and you can’t diminish his love for you. You can simply enjoy it, be changed by it, and share it with others.

Lord Jesus, I never could have “purified myself.” I never could have gained a relationship with God through purgings, penance, and promises of doing more and trying harder. What religion could never do for us, you’ve done for us. It wasn’t my obedience to the law that saved me, but obedience to the truth of the gospel.

That’s what we celebrate at Advent: your coming to do for us what we could never do for ourselves. Indeed, Advent isn’t the coming of a second chance, but the arrival of the Second Adam. “Born that man no more may die, born to raise the sons of earth, born to give them second birth—Hark! The herald angels sing, ‘Glory to the newborn King!'”

It’s only because I was given the “second birth,” only because I was born again of the “imperishable seed” of grace, that I discovered my need of the gospel and was able to obey the truth of the gospel by believing it. You get all the credit, Jesus, from beginning to end. Salvation is of the Lord!

So as I celebrate your incarnation this early morning, I surrender to its implications. Love in me and love through me, Lord Jesus. There’s no other way I will love anyone well. Make my love for my brothers and sisters sincere and observable. Teach me how to love deeply from my heart, just as you love us. So very Amen I pray, in your holy and loving name.

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Scotty Smith


Scotty Smith is the founding pastor of Christ Community Church in Franklin, Tennessee. You can follow him on Twitter.

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