A Christmas Message from Pastor Johnson:
Updated: Dec 30, 2018
Olivet has adopted a new mission statement: “Oh, See How They Love Each Other.” This statement is not an original phrase but one that is borrowed from a Patriarch of the church Tertullian. Tertullian notes in his journal that those from the local community constantly criticized church members by saying, “Oh, See How They Love Each Other.”
It is our dream and hope that the community that surrounds us would levy this criticism against us!
When we look around our community, it is evident that little love is being shared. Political differences polarize our country. Many are quick to point the finger at the other with the sole intention of tearing them down. The church has not been immune to this polarization; Christians with opposing theological tenets accuse one another of being wrong or less informed.
When we look at the Christmas story, we find that the core message is Love. I am sure you have memorized this Bible verse that captures the spirit of Christmas: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Love initiates the Christmas miracle — a loving God comes to us as a baby born in a manger.
During his life, Jesus lived out every aspect of Love. Jesus had a diverse band of followers with various theological and political positions — a tax collector, who believed that the Pax Romana did a lot of good for the country, a Zealot who wanted to overthrow the Romans, a Pharisee who was well educated in the Holy Scriptures, and a fisherman who had very limited knowledge of the Holy Scriptures. Despite their differences, love brought them together through the person of Jesus Christ.
The more I ponder the differences of the disciples, the more I see similarities in our own church community. We all come with different world-views. Our frame for understanding the church and the political landscape could very well be opposed to the views of the person who shares the pew with us.
This Christmas season, I invite you into this love that comes from Jesus. Towards the end of his life, Jesus gave us these words: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35).
May we love our neighbor as Christ loved us! May the love of God that covers a multitude of differences surround us and carry us this Christmas season and into the coming days. When we live out this radical love of Christ, I am certain our community will say of us, “Oh See How They Love Each Other.”
Blessings, Pastor Johnson