Why is this?
If we are just physical beings, here by random chance as we’re led to believe by society today, there is no good reason why this idea of “giving a little love” should mean anything to us. Any “kindness” or “love” shown would be an act of instinct, ultimately for our own benefit.
But is this true? No, of course not. We know there’s more to it, and we all have some grasp, however small, of the need to love and be loved. When I turn to the Bible, God’s Word, I find that it speaks to this reality. It tells us we are not merely physical beings but are made “in the image of God” (Genesis 1:27), of whom it says: “God is love” (1 John 4:8).
Consider with me how this deeper understanding of love is illustrated in a parable Jesus Christ told about a shepherd and a lost sheep. You’ll find this parable in Luke chapter 15.
The Shepherd’s Love
“What man of you, having a 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 told, spiritual truth is conveyed with simple, everyday 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 spiritual truth is found when we realise that we are meant to see the shepherd as a picture of Christ Himself, whose mission is to rescue and save us – the lost sheep.
Some of us will be able to connect with the heart of the shepherd in the parable. My point, then, is that if we would go out of our way to help one lost sheep, or, to borrow the words of the advert, “give a little love” to someone in need, we can expect that God, our Creator, in whose image we are made, will do the same.
“But that’s the problem”, I hear someone say. “When I was in need, God did nothing. How is He a loving God?” That’s a fair question and I appreciate you may be deeply hurt, but can I kindly suggest that your view of your need 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 its wanderings? Not a bit of it. Your mission is to rescue the sheep fully and bring it home to a place of safety.
Now, let’s turn that around because, often, we are like that wandering sheep. In our selfish ways, we want God to intervene to take away the present pain and suffering, but then to leave us alone to go our own way. God wants so much more for us. He wants to take away our sin and guilt and bring us home to enjoy a relationship with Him, and that is why He did 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 everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
In this short parable, we are neither told about the journey the shepherd had to make, nor what it cost him, but for Jesus Christ, the cost is made clear in John chapter 10. There, Jesus Himself clearly states that 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 deepest 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 there is nothing little about Jesus Christ’s love for us. His love is great by virtue of the greatness of our sin that had to be paid for; 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, to receive it by faith, we are brought “home” into the family of God. Those of us who respond in that way are then 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).
For anyone who rejects this truth of God’s love, then the advertising slogan, “give a little love”, is really no more than that – a slogan!