Christmas day? One week away? Already? For some this is a season of joy that celebrates family, giving and receiving. For others this is a special time to celebrate the birth of the Savior and God’s ultimate expression of love for the world (though it is still debated as to the exact date that Jesus the Christ was born which most scholars believe was late fall or early spring). Still, for others Christmas is a celebration of both. Either way, what begins with joyful anticipation somehow turns into a season of stress, good cooking (which I am not complaining about) and shopping lists. I get both excited and tired just thinking about it. Sadly though, on December 26 many of us are left with the stark reality of presents to return, decorations to pack, and more credit card bills. Is this what we really want out of Christmas? What if it could be about something more joyful and lasting?
Almost 2000 years ago the God of heaven and earth changed both human history and future when he subtly crashed into the present. He changed the world with a revolutionary love full of promise and hope. But this revolutionary love wasn’t in the form of a word or statement. It was in the form of a baby — a fully human, fully God, newborn baby. It was the Advent (the coming or arrival) of a new world; a world where sin, brokeness, pain, and death would no longer reign and dictate the human heart. It was the Advent of a new order of life; one of love, grace, justice, compassion and generosity. This Advent was a divine move that fully proclaimed His divine mission of redemption and restoration. It was God’s subtle way of putting skin on love, grace, compassion and generosity that offers salvation to all of humanity. He was beginning His work of redeeming and restoring all of creation. It was Jesus the Lord, Savior and King. It is good news. It is the Gospel: that through King Jesus, the One who fulfill’s Israel’s promises found in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament), God is inviting all of humanity to receive His redemptive salvation and new life of hope, love, mercy and grace. In King Jesus, God is inviting humanity to join in His mission to become His creative influence for redemption and restoration by declaring and demonstrating this Gospel. This means both proclaiming and practicing God’s way of life as modeled and taught by Jesus and New Testament Scripture. Or to put it another way, it looks like doing whatever it takes to deal out hope to the hopeless, love to the loveless, mercy to the merciless, and compassionate generosity to those in need.
If you really want the greatest gift you could ever receive, the Creator of heaven and earth offers it to you in Jesus Christ, the reconciling, redeeming and restoring King. Really. Consider Him. Lay aside what the preachers say and who other christians claim Him to be (even this one). Jesus will always be Jesus, and though He will come to live inside our “hearts,” He will never live inside our preferences. He is Jesus. So I invite you to read the book of John in the bible and see Him for yourself. If you don’t have a bible (or one that reads in language similar to the way we actually speak in 2011), then email me and I will send you one.
If you want to give the greatest gift you can ever afford, find meaningful ways to give others hope, love and compassion. These gifts can make a lasting difference and point to the greatest Gift of all.