Whatever you might think about Christmas adverts, and this year as usual they’ve caused quite a stir on social media, the message – in this case #GiveALittleLove (John Lewis/Waitrose) – has been chosen because it will resonate widely with the human soul.
Why is this?
If we are just physical beings, here by random chance as we’re led to believe by the culture, there is no good reason why this idea of ‘giving a little love’ should mean so much to us. It only has subjective relevance. In other words, we ‘give a little love’ because ultimately it will benefit us.
Is this true? Is it really what’s going on? No, of course not.
These adverts point to a deeper reality, and it is this deeper reality that the Bible outlines for us. Consider with me a parable Jesus Christ told about a shepherd and a lost sheep, and let us learn about a deeper love. You’ll find this parable in Luke chapter 15.
The Shepherd’s Love
What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not … go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? (Luke 15:4)
As in all the parables Jesus Christ told, deep spiritual truth is conveyed with simple, concrete examples. In this case, a shepherd who loses just one sheep shows his love for the sheep by doing all he can to rescue that sheep and bring it back to the security of the fold. The deeper spiritual truth is found when we recognise that the shepherd referred to is Jesus Christ Himself; His mission is to rescue and save you – the one lost sheep.
So many of us will connect with the heart of the shepherd in the parable. The point being made is that if we would go out of our way to help one lost sheep, or according to the advert, ‘give a little love’ to someone in need, we should expect that God our Creator, in whose image we are made, would have the same desire.
“But that’s the problem”, I hear you say. “When I was in need, God did nothing. How is He a loving God?” That’s a fair question and I appreciate the pain you are feeling, but can I kindly suggest that your view of the problem is too narrow.
Consider the lost sheep for a moment. Imagine it is yours, and after a long search, you find it caught in the brambles, and quite badly scratched up. Would you be a caring shepherd if all you did was to free the sheep from the brambles to continue it’s wanderings? Not a bit of it. Your desire is to rescue the sheep fully and bring it home.
Often, we are like that wandering sheep, and in our selfish ways, we only want God to intervene to take away the present pain and suffering, but then let us continue to wander. God wants so much more for us. He wants to take away our sin and guilt and bring us home, and that is why He did not not just ‘give a little love’ to remove our present suffering, but gave so, so much more.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
In this short parable, we are not told about the journey the shepherd had to make, nor what it cost him, but regarding Jesus Christ, this is made clear in John chapter 10. There Jesus Himself states He is ‘the Good Shepherd’, and declares that He is prepared to pay the ultimate price to save us from the very root of all our problems – our sins – and reconcile us back to God.
“I am the good shepherd, the good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.” (John 10:11)
The John Lewis Christmas advert encourages us to ‘give a little love’, the operative word being ‘little’, but for Jesus Christ, there is nothing little about His love for us. His love is great by virtue of the greatness of our sin, and great because of the greatness of His sacrifice – the eternal ‘Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me’ (Galatians 2:20).
When we come to appreciate this truth personally, then we are called by our Saviour Jesus Christ, not just to ‘give a little love’, but to show the same sacrificial love to others, even our enemies, ‘hoping for nothing in return’ (Luke 6:35).
If we reject this truth of God’s love for us, then the advertising slogan ‘give a little love’ is really no more than that – a slogan!