At Christmastime, we all desire to be loving, sweet, caring, generous, and generally nicer versions of ourselves. 

And we want everyone else to be as well.  Yet, “love” is a curious thing.  In one sense, “love isn’t love until you give it away.”  In another sense, we avoid talking about hatred at this time of year.

After all, no one says, “I hate you!  But merry Christmas!”  Um…that doesn’t work, right?

Yet to appreciate God’s love for humanity, you need to understand His hatred for humanity.  Yes, I wrote that.

John 3:36 reminds us of a message found throughout Scripture: “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.”  Did you read that?  God’s wrath (His judgment) remains on those who reject Jesus.  Do you know what that means?

God hates sin and sinners.  He has to hate sinners because our sin is not something external to us.  Sin is not imposed onto us as if we are basically good and suffer from sin like we might suffer from a cold.  We won’t “get over” sin no matter how hard we try.  There’s no “positive thinking” that will deliver us from sin.  There’s no amount of money we can give away to make us less evil.

We can’t.

Ultimately, we don’t want to.  “People loved darkness instead of light,” John 3:19 instructs, “because their deeds were evil.”  We love darkness.  Sin is fun to us.  It’s why we do it.  It’s why we keep doing it.  It’s why we keep struggling with it.  And it’s why we are helpless and hopeless to reach heaven on our own.

This is why John 3:18 reminds us, “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”  Don’t ignore what that says: humanity is condemned by God by default.  Hell is our destination.  Sin is more than a disease to us; it’s hard-wired into our DNA.

Now do you understand what we are apart from the Father’s love?

Now the good news: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,” John 3:16-17 joyously tells us, “that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

Apart from God’s love for us, all we would have is God’s abhorrence of us in our sin (cf. Psalm 5:5).  But what we celebrate this short week of Advent brings us to Christmas Day when we remember the tremendous love of the Lord for us that saved us from ourselves.

This is the love of God that sent Jesus to die for us—not for some random “sins,” but for us—people.  Jesus died for sinners because I need a Savior.  When we could not get to Him, God came to us. 

1 John 4:9–10 reads, “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.  This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”

God hates sinners; God loves sinners.  Celebrate the tremendous love of God the Father through Jesus Christ His Son making a way in a manger for you to know life, purpose, and peace.

As a disciple of Jesus Christ, you are loved far more than you can imagine.  And when you understand God’s hatred, your worship of Him for His love is phenomenally deeper.

Happy Advent and Merry Christmas!