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I wonder how you would feel if I were to come to you, give you a small parcel and say, “Here, I have a little gift for you.” Would you be; surprised, excited, pleased, curious, blessed?

What if I were to wrap that gift in layers and layers of paper and sticky tape?

Would it somehow lose it’s appeal?

What if there were so many layers and so much sticky tape that it would take you an entire week to unwrap that gift? Would it still be as appealing?

What if I were to give it to you but on giving it to you place a whole heap of conditions on when or how you could use it? Still quite so appealing?

The truth is that it probably wouldn’t be would it?  And indeed that is understandable.

So why is it, I think it i worth asking, that so often when we as Christians offer love we do so with so many layers and wrappings and conditions that can get in the way of that person truly enjoying or benefiting from that gift of love?

How often do we expect or require people to act a certain way, behave a certain way, believe a certain way before we are fully willing to love them?

How often do we present people with our love wrapped in our doctrine or own beliefs and by doing so make that love less relevant, accessible or beneficial to them?

Christian love should be just that Christian love and should therefore be the kind of love described in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7…

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (NIV)

That kind of love is, in my opinion and experience, invaluable and essential for anyone and especially for folk whose perspectives and resultant behaviour is different to our own.

But it is also a kind of love that is difficult, I would suggest impossible, for us to do in our own strength.  We need Christ to offer that kind of love and we need to go beyond those layers that we are ourselves often see or present and instead reveal the Christ we know and love.

If we truly want to present a love unwrapped, we must do so through a Christ unwrapped, a Christ truly revealed.