Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and shall call his name Immanuel."
"All the prophets testify about Him that though His name everyone who believes in Him will receive forgiveness of sins."
"For to us a son is born,
to us a son is given."
"For God so loves the world in this way; He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him."
"He has sent me [Jesus] to proclaim freedom to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."
"The word that you hear is not Mine but is from the Father who sent me. I have spoken these things to you while I remain with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit- the Father will send Him in My name- will each you all things and remind you of everything that I have told you."
"Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins."
1 John 4:10
"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
1 Corinthians 15:57
(Holman Christian Standard Bible, italics mine.)
Christmas is the season of giving. We give gifts, time, cheer, cookies. We gives little bits of ourselves to the people that we love. I'm pretty sure I've purchased more things to give this year than any other year. And we love it. We love giving gifts and love.
But there's a flip to the coin: receiving.
At first glance, this sounds like the really fun part. Who doesn't like opening presents and receiving gifts? The inner kid in each of us is screaming right now at the thought of opening presents in five days. GETTING!!!!
What is the true gift of Christmas, though? Nope, it's not a Sephora makeup set or a Polaroid camera, it's Jesus. Jesus is the gift that God reminds us of each Christmas. He's the gift that we all need more than we could ever imagine. He's the gift that fills us up more than we thought possible. He's the gift of joy, of peace, of reconciliation, of forgiveness, of a new life, and of celebration. He's the gift of salvation, of grace, of mercy, and of righteousness. He's the greatest gift.
How come, then, we don't like receiving Jesus?
There's a certain code in adult gift giving that makes the whole process happier. I give you something. You give me someone of relatively equal value. It works. That way no one feels lesser, no one feels humbled, and no one really came out richer in the end.
Have you ever exchanged gifts with someone only to discover that they gave you something much more extravagant? It's awkward. It's humbling. You kinda want to run to Target right that moment to add on to your gift.
I think that's one of the reasons why we don't want to fully receive the gift of Jesus. When God gave Jesus to us, it was an unequal exchange. He asks for our belief and in exchange He gives us the life of His One and Only Son. Wait a minute? That's not equal. It's humbling because the exchange favors us. So we rush to the Good Works aisle of the store to try and match God's gift, but we can buy the entire aisle- the entire store for that matter- and still come out with more than we gave. God will always out-give us.
Santa's got nothing on God.
Remember when I said that the code of matching gift values was an adult code. Well, children have a different code: PRESENTS. That's their code. It's simple. Presents. They like to give presents, and they especially like to receive presents. They don't really know how much things cost, but they for sure know that they can't buy anything like what they've been given. They simply receive their gifts with squeals and joy. They use their gifts. They share their gifts. They receive.
This Christmas God's calling me- and you too- to receive Jesus. The verses I posted above (as well as so many others not included) all came from the She Reads Truth study that I'm doing. They study isn't necessarily about the giving/receiving process, but almost every day a verse talks about it. Every time I open my Bible, there they are, the words give, receive, sent.
So this Christmas I'm learning how to humbly receive the gifts God gives- gifts of life, forgiveness, grace, and His Spirit. He gives and gives and doesn't ever run out of goodness. So even though we turn out the richer out of His gift unto us, His glory isn't lessened because He gave grace to us. His glory is exalted. We both come out the richer.
Rest in the richness of God's grace in the form of a baby in a manger. Bow down in praise to the One who gives abundantly more than all we ask or imagine. Live in the gifts that He gives with gratitude and joy.
This Christmas, instead of trying to buy, create, or decorate the gifts of the season, receive the gift of God like a child. This makes all of the difference.