As many as I love I reprove and discipline, be earnest, therefore, and repent. Rev 3:19.
Christmas is an exciting season for six-year olds. Nicholas was in kindergarten, busily memorizing songs for his school’s “Winter Pageant.” There was a dress rehearsal the morning of the pageant and parents who had conflicts that evening got a chance to view the presentations.1
Most American public schools have stopped referring to the holiday as “Christmas,” so the Christian parents did not expect more than the typical holiday entertainment, songs about reindeer and Santa Claus, snowflakes and good cheer. And to no one’s surprise the children were all dressed in fuzzy mittens, red sweaters, with bright knit caps on their heads. It was a bit surprising, therefore, when Nicholas’ class rose up to sing “Christmas Love.”
The children in the front row of the class held up large letters, one by one, to spell out the title of the song. As the class would sing “C is for Christmas,” a child would hold up the letter C. Then, “H is for Happy,” and so on, until the whole group had spelled out the complete message, “Christmas Love.”
The performance was going smoothly, until everyone began to notice a small, quiet, girl in the front row holding the letter “M” upside down, totally unaware that her letter “M” appeared as a “W” upside down. The audience of 1st through 6th graders snickered at this little one’s mistake. But she had no idea that they were laughing at her, so she stood tall, proudly holding her “W.”
Although the teachers in the audience tried to quiet the children, the laughter continued until the last letter was raised. A hush came over the audience and eyes began to widen. In that instant everyone was reminded of the true reason they were there, the reason why the holiday was being celebrated in the first place, the purpose for the festivities. For when the last letter was held high, the message read loud and clear: Christ Was Love!!!
The word “love” is rare in the Book of Revelation. Jesus loves us (Rev 1:5), the Ephesians have left their first love (2:4), the church at Thyatira shows a lot of love, patience and service (2:19). Jesus loves the church at Philadelphia (3:9), the people of God do not love their lives to the point of avoiding death (12:11) and those outside the New Jerusalem love falsehood (22:15). So there seems to be more emphasis in Revelation on reproving and disciplining than on love. That makes this text very important, because it shows that while bad things sometimes happen to God’s people, there is a loving hand that guides all things for our ultimate good.