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The Gift From the Heart of God
“Jesus answered and said to him, ‘If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that says to you, Give me a drink, you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water'” ( John 4:10).
Christmas is celebrated almost all over the world. Many towns decorate their streets, homes are brightly lit and draped in tinsel for Christmas, and shopkeepers have promotions. In Europe, people look forward to delicious Christmas markets where local food and produce provide a festive mood at the end of winter.
For many years in the United States, the day after Thanksgiving was the biggest shopping day of the year. This year there was even a “Black Friday 2010” website for online promotions. Some major retailers were also open on Thanksgiving Day. News commentators believe this will be a new trend. In fact, virtually all of the “news” right now is about Christmas: where to get the best bargains; how are retailers faring; the jobs that have been created because of Christmas; the challenges of traveling during busy holidays; recipes for entertaining during the holidays and how to deal with the stress of it all.
Christmas is so commercialized that few people could tell its true meaning. Christmas has become a “season”, a holiday period for organizing family reunions at the end of the year. Every year, a lot of thought and expense goes into buying gifts for family and loved ones. Often people plan the whole year for Christmas, putting money aside to buy presents or shopping throughout the year and saving presents for the big day.
Today’s Christmas has nothing to do with the first Christmas. On that day, because “God so loved the world…He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). The only other gifts on this occasion were given to the Christ Child: the adoration of those who had looked forward to his coming and the gold, frankincense and myrrh given to him by the Magi.
God planned the birth of the Child Jesus before the beginning of time. “Who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his purpose and the grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began” (2 Timothy 1:9). God the Father sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him (1 John 4:9). The angel Gabriel said to Mary: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore also this Saint who is to be born will be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35). Jesus, the Son, chose to be born to save us from our sins. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory of the only begotten Son of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). “So all this was done to fulfill that which had been spoken of the Lord through the prophet, saying, ‘Behold, the virgin shall be pregnant, and bear a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel,’ which is translated , ‘God with us'” (Matthew 1:23).
This plan of Almighty God did not come about without pain on his part. Since the creation of man, God had revealed himself, but the world did not know him. Many have chosen to ignore his presence and his claim on their lives. What father deliberately plans for his son to suffer? Almighty God accepted in Himself because He loved the world so much that Jesus would take on man’s skin, submit to man’s trials and temptations, demonstrate a victorious sinless life, and die of death. a sacrificial death in the name of man. Jesus, God made flesh, is “the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation…for it pleased the Father that in him dwell all the fullness, and through him to reconcile all things to him , through him, either on earth or in heaven, having made peace through the blood of his cross” (Colossians 1:15, 19-20). God’s undying love was demonstrated by the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus. “Thanks to God for his indescribable gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15).
Jesus is the divine gift from the heart of God. “For by grace you have been saved, through faith; and it is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8). When we accept the gift of salvation that Jesus offers us, then we are called children of God. “See what love the Father has given us, that we may be called children of God, and we are” (1 John 3:1).
Christmas should be celebrated. Family reunions, gift exchanges between loved ones, good food for two are all ways to commemorate this unique event with dignity. God is all about the family. He invited us to be among his people. He wants us to express our love for one another. However, if Christ is excluded from Christmas, it is nothing more than a pagan holiday.
Christmas gives true Christians a wonderful opportunity to witness. More people go to church at Christmas and Easter than at any other time of the year. Although many visit simply as part of the seasonal festivities, receptivity to the gospel may be greatest during these times.
Christians can and should use this time to remind people that “every good gift and every perfect gift comes from above and comes down from the Father of lights” (James 1:17). Jesus revealed the nature of God and his love to the world – “No one has ever seen God. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has declared him” (John 1:18) – and it is indeed cause for celebration.
In Jesus, God came down from heaven to show us his heart of love. When he was born, the shepherds looked up and saw the angels announcing his arrival. The Magi looked up and followed the star to where the Christ Child was. After Jesus’ resurrection, he was lifted up while they watched (Acts 1:9). As Stephen was being stoned, he looked up and saw Jesus standing at the right hand of God (Acts 7:55-56). When we look up, we can see Jesus, adore him, and give him our hearts of love and gratitude. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind and ‘your neighbor as yourself'” (Luke 10:27).
Stephanie B. Blake
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