The Gift of Christmas

December 18, 2016 No Comments »
The Gift of Christmas

By Tyler Edwards

Have you ever wanted something so badly it was all you could think about? You couldn’t sleep; you couldn’t eat; you couldn’t really do anything; you were just obsessed? There are things in life that captivate our attention and draw us so completely that we forget about everything else. We act like Wile E. Coyote chasing after the Road Runner.

We do crazy stuff in pursuit of the things we want.

What Drives You?

I recall a memory from when my wife and I were first dating. While I was on vacation, I wanted to get her something nice. I found a fancy bath kit thing that smelled good. It seemed like the kind of thing she would like. I’ve never spent so much on smelly lotion stuff in all my life. If she liked it, it would be worth it.

I got to the airport. I checked my bag. I headed through security. I had forgotten that I put the gift in my carry-on. TSA agents wouldn’t let me bring the lotions on the plane because they were bigger than 3 ounces. So I had a choice—I could pitch them and go through or I could run back and put them in my checked bag. It was a big airport. I had about 10 minutes before my plane started boarding. I didn’t have time to sort through my carry-on and grab out what I wanted to have with me for the long flight home. So it was toss the gift and get on the plane or run back and check everything.

I ran through the airport like a crazy person to check the bag because I wanted to have this gift for her when I got back. I don’t like having nothing to do on a plane, but having something for her was more important to me.

When we have to make choices, we will always find a way to accomplish the one that is more important to us. Sometimes to accomplish what we really want, we do crazy things.

Just think about Christmas shopping: Malls pack every parking spot with cars for months as people flock into stores looking for sales and searching for the perfect gift. We wait in lines, push through crowds, and navigate traffic—all to get good deals on gifts for our loved ones. When we stop to think about it, it’s crazy the amount of time, energy, and money that goes into getting some gifts under a tree for one special morning. It’s a lot. Think about it: What is it that you want the most? What drives you? What gets you out of bed every morning?

He Came for Us

Sometimes we get so focused on what we are pursuing that we miss everything else. If we took a moment, we would recognize something amazing: Jesus, the greatest person who is, was, and ever will be has been pursuing us. Jesus is pursuing you. He always has been. He always will be. He won’t stop pursuing you until you are his.

“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:5-11).

Jesus had everything. He is God and lived in paradise as the King. He left it all behind, giving up the comforts of Heaven to come to earth and to live as a man. Not a rich man. Not a powerful man. A carpenter. He was born in a barn and raised by commoners. He came here not out of some curiosity for what human life was like. He came here for us. Not to condemn us. He came to save us.

Jesus came to earth knowing that the people he was trying to save would reject him. The cross was not a surprise. It was the plan. He knew he would suffer. He knew he’d be beaten. He knew he would die. He knew what was coming. He came anyway.

Jesus took our place and paid our price. He suffered so that we wouldn’t have to. He died to bring us back to himself. He endured the cross and submitted himself to death so that we could have life. Jesus never stops pursuing us. People will do crazy things in pursuit of what they want. Jesus wants us, desires us, and searches for us. He pursues us.

Jesus died for us. That’s how much he wanted us. That’s how much he loved us. We didn’t come to him. We didn’t save ourselves. We didn’t make ourselves good. He came for us. He lived for us. He died for us so that by his death we could have life. He saved us.

The Greatest Gift

As you settle in to enjoy Christmas with your family, think about what this time is all about. It’s not about giving gifts. Or is it? Gifts aren’t earned. We don’t deserve a gift. If we did, it wouldn’t be called a gift. Gifts are given out of love, friendship, and relationship. We give gifts not because we have to but because want to. We give them because we care. God gave us the gift of his Son. Jesus gave us the gift of his life. Christmas is all about giving. The reason we give gifts at Christmas is to remind us of the true gift of Christmas.

You might get some cool stuff for Christmas, and I hope you do. But nothing will compare to the gift you have already been given. The greatest gift you will ever receive is the grace of God in Christ Jesus. It’s knowing that God isn’t just willing to save you. He pursued you. Fought for you. Went out of his way and suffered for you. He isn’t just willing to save you. He wants to save you. Jesus looked at you and loved you. He thought you were worthy of pursuit. That’s the gospel—that’s good news. The creator of the universe, the sustainer of life, wants you, loves you, calls you to be his. What greater gift is there than experiencing the love God has for you?

That is not just something we receive. It’s something to be shared. God gives us his love so that we can share that love with others. That’s really what Christmas is all about—sharing the love of God with the people we know and the people we love.

God is for us.

God is with us.

God loves us.

Tyler Edwards is an author and minister in South Carolina.

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