John 3:16 – For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (NIV)
I often pride myself in my "outside the box" thinking, but was challenged this week after I made a simple comment. I had punctuated an e-mail conversation with, "After all, Jesus is the reason for the season," and it was only moments before a good Christian friend responded that my focus was too narrow.
She reminded me that we are the reason for the season, and Jesus is the gift for us all. I was reminded that Jesus didn't come to receive praise and adoration, but instead He came to offer salvation — that's the reason.
She challenged me to find a way to let non-Christians know that Jesus is the gift and He's not just for a season.
As I thought about this, I was reminded that we, as Christians, know that He is the gift, the way to salvation from a God who loves us. He came that we might have eternal life. But do non-Christians know that Jesus' birth is the continuation of a love story that starts with "In the beginning"?
What message are we giving to those looking for, or needing to find, Jesus? Do we — or are we perceived to — swoop down with benevolence once or twice a year, or do we present the gift of Jesus to all throughout the year?
I thought about all those folks out there, spending an average of $351 per child to find the "perfect" and "best" gift, and wondered if they would be more content if they knew that the perfect gift wouldn't cost them a cent?
Would people be more accepting if they were reminded that salvation is a gift? Would that be our start at putting Christ back into Christmas in a world that is busily taking Him out of the holiday equation?
I have not yet found that one sentence message that I can deliver, but I am sure looking at the "message" I give as I prepare to celebrate the anniversary of the Blessed Birth. Could it be "Christmas is coming because God loves you and me"? How about "Jesus is the perfect present"?
Prayer: Heavenly Father, we who know You thank You for sending Jesus that we may have life. We thank You that His blood has washed us "whiter than the winter snow". We praise You for the gift that we can unwrap anew each year, and we pray that You help us to offer that gift all year long to those who do not yet know Your saving grace. We ask this in the precious and holy name of Jesus. Amen.