The Best Gift

Friday, December 19, 2008
Listen to this devotional:

Micah 6:8 – But he's already made it plain how to live, what to do, what God is looking for in men and women. It's quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love. And don't take yourself too seriously — take God seriously. (MSG)

Spoons has lived on the streets of downtown Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, for over 28 years now. He used to have a proper name; it's been so long that he has almost forgotten it. I remember the day several years ago, just as if it were yesterday, that I took Spoons out to a local cafe on Graveley Sreet. Now, he is a local celebrity in downtown Vancouver, and he's my friend. This unlikely friendship under difficult circumstances reminds me of an unlikely friendship between God and man that took an improbable turn in a manger long ago. Journey with me.

Peaceful. Serene. Quiet. These are words that we tend to use to describe the picturesque scene of the newborn baby Messiah. But He was nestled on hay in a cattle barn because of a disruptive census, which is why there was no room at the inn. At His birth were some poor shepherds, who were among the hated in their community, right up there with thieves and murderers in our day. Five or more pagan astrologers made an arduous trek across over 800 miles of desert heat and uncertain circumstances, all the while following the shiny trail of a star which signified the birth of a King. A few months later, they were all running for their lives from Herod, who wanted this baby King dead.

"Peaceful" and "serene" are words that were very far from describing the scene of Christ's birth. Jesus was thrown into political turmoil in a country unsure of itself. He was going to be their Saviour, but not the one they expected. He was here with a different message: love your enemies. To the Jews — love the Romans. Who is my neighbour? The Samaritan. The shepherd. So really, Christ was inviting His own people to be best friends with some local outsiders.

His birth was the catalyst for His mission. The message of Christ's birth is that He was here for the hated, the outsiders, and the unloved.

In today's Scripture, Micah invites us all to walk humbly with our God, and to do so, he says we must act justly and love mercy. This really means that we must set things right. Sometimes, we think that by simply buying presents or praying for the homeless guy, we fix the world. Jesus spent most of His time with ex-blind men and tax collectors, and even local prostitutes. The message of Christmas isn't about getting, it's about giving: God giving His Son to us as one of us; God giving the human race a second chance; God releasing us from ever being condemned as sinners again; God restoring mankind. This is where the message of Christmas begins. God leaves it up to us to determine how it ends.

Prayer: Abba, during this Christmas season, may we come to see that this time of year is about getting into the rhythm of sharing life with those who are in a less fortunate situation than ourselves. Give us opportunities to share Your love with them, whether it be a meal or a kind word; show us who to love. May the gift we give be one where people meet each other and You. Amen.

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George Elerick <>
Cholsey, Wallingford, United Kingdom

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