Though there isn’t currently any snow on the ground, it’s finally beginning to feel like the Christmas season around here. We’ve got the tree up at home, decorations up in the church building, and we’re going caroling tonight as a church family (so I’m actually glad that it’s warmer this year than it has been in past years). I even got the chance to explain to a new person why the angel on the church’s sanctuary tree is kinda scary-looking, instead of looking like some sort of traditional, fairy-type thing (our FCC angel is all covered with eyes and wings). And then, after the service, everyone exchanged Christmas cookies, ’cuz this is the time of year to utterly ignore all of the good eating habits that I’ve worked so hard on for the rest of the calendar year. Sigh...
Actually, this is usually a good time to remind one another to remember not to get so caught up in the preparations and activities at Christmas that we miss the purpose of Christmas. I know that we all know that it’s not about the tinsel and the cookies and the presents and the special family meals... But we too often still act like it’s kinda all about the tinsel and the cookies and the presents and the special family meals (justifying it by saying, “Yes, I know, but these things are still really important...!”).
If no Christmas decorations are hung, if no cookies are made or eaten, if children get no presents, if we end up having to go eat duck at a Chinese restaurant for dinner, Christmas will still be Christmas -- and if it wouldn’t still be Christmas, then I submit that we’re letting our wrapping paper overshadow the gift that God gave us at Christmas time.
When you get down to it, the gift that God gave us was, in a nutshell, love. Not the namby-pamby, warm candlelight, “I wanna hold your hand” sort of love that the world thinks of when they use that word, but the kind of love that says, “I know what you need, and I’m willing to die to make sure that you have it when you need it” kind of love that the Bible talks about.
God poured out His love for us through Christ -- born in a manger so that He could die on a cross. While we were still powerless, while we were still sinners, while we were still enemies of God, Jesus Christ came and died for us (see Romans 5:6-10). That’s the gift of Christmas and the message of Christmas -- that God came to man’s place to take man’s place and pay for what we could never pay for on our own.
And the beauty of that gift is that it was always intended to be re-gifted. Not only can it be re-gifted, and should it be re-gifted, but it doesn’t work if it isn’t re-gifted. If we accept God’s love into our lives, and then store it up for ourselves without pouring it out into other people’s lives, we’re ignoring so many verses of Scripture, it’s terrifying (see John 13:34-35, 14:15, 15:12-14, 1 John 4:7-8, 4:19-21, etc.). Instead of being a fountain of God’s love in this parched world, we would become a stagnant pool, and that’s not what God intended for us at all.
So look around you. Seriously, stop and think for a moment about what love-thirsty people there are around you in your life. Are there people whom you know who have no relationship with Jesus Christ? Are there Christians who have lost sight of what this season is really all about? Are there brothers or sisters (or husbands or wives) who are simply hurting and need you to come alongside of them and let God’s love flow through you and into them?
Stop and look around you, and be the conduit of God’s love that you were always intended to be...