Sunday 20 December 2020
Ps Ben Hooman
In this commercialized world this festive time of celebrating the birth of Christ is a time of giving, and therefor a time of shopping for gifts. Even since the wise men from the East showed up at the stable carrying gold, frankincense, and myrrh, people are exchanging gifts at Christmas.
Today it is more complicated than it was for the wise men. They have seen the star in the east and came to worship Jesus. In the world today there are all kinds of media advertising Christmas in different forms and formats; newspapers, television, social media, etc.
Shopping malls are contending with one another as parents, families, and friends are going from store to store searching for that latest play station, or other gadgets on the market.
The wise men did not have to worry about sizes, or colours, or return policies. They had plain gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. Nothing that was out of fashion, that they don’t like, that is too small, or too big, too cheap or too expensive.
Well, this year, although different from other past festive seasons due to Covid-19 regulations, millions of people young and old, will open millions of gifts. Some won’t fit, some the wrong colour, many will be returned or exchanged, all focussed on the likes of self.
But there is one gift that meets everyone’s needs, one gift that will never wear out, never break or need any repairs. A Gift that is appropriate for a small child, for a teenager, an adult, as well as for seniors, boy or girl, man or woman. A Gift that meets everyone’s needs and available all year round, not just for a season but for a life time! The Gift that we all need and the most valuable gift of all, Jesus Christ our Saviour! The on that not only the season is about, but also what life is all about.
At Christmas we celebrate that God gave us the gift of His Son Jesus Christ so that through faith in Him we are forgiven and have eternal life.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
I want to make three points about this wonderful lifesaving Gift:
The Gift is Jesus Christ Himself
The gift God offers us the person Jesus Christ. To know Him and to understand His presence, to know Him intimately as a friend, and to have fellowship with Him, to love and be loved in a relationship with Him.
The gift God offers us is to be known and loved by Christ.
“You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.” (John 15:15)
“And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” (John 17:3)
Have you received and accepted this gift? Do you have this kind of relationship with Christ to seek His presence, and to know this only true God? Do you see Him as your friend as you follow and obey Him? Is He someone you know you can talk to, cry to, to counsel with and receive counsel from? Are you at ease in His presence? Do you believe He abides in you or do you feel that you have to ‘clean-up” your spiritual house, that you have to perform to welcome Him in?
“Christ Jesus is present with us and His Spirit lives in us. Our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.” (1 John 1:3)
People think of our faith as nothing but a set of burdensome responsibilities doing things you do not want to do. Things like going to church when you rather want to be on the dam, a life filled with rules with a lot of do’s and don’ts. A bit more positively, many see it beneficial to self, lots of benefits to self, and they might even miss the mark.
The essence of our faith is not in do’s and don’ts or even blessings and benefits, but a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. The Gift is Christ Himself!
Yes, there are many benefits, like joy, hope and peace. But they all come through Christ and it all flow from my relationship with God. The greatest gift to your children is not a few boxes wrapped in coloured paper over Christmas or birthdays. No, this most valuable you can offer them is a relationship. Your love, your time, and your attention, your commitment to always be there for them when they need you. All that God stands for, and we as parents to be an extension of Him to our children. God’s greatest gift to us is a relationship, a relationship with Jesus Christ. He is always present and in His presence I dwell.
This Gift has great value
At the birth of Christ, when the people looked in the manger, what did they see? Did they see a baby or did they see a king? Some did not see the King of kings and the Lord of lords, the Prince of peace.
There was a multitude of angels, an array of bright shining beings praising God loudly,
“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: ‘Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill towards men!’. Did the people of Bethlehem or Jerusalem see it? Did they hear the angels?
So many missed it. The inn keeper missed it, the religious leaders missed it, all to busy with their own works. They had no time for a relationship with Christ.
Some past by the manger and looked at the gifts; at the gold, the frankincense, and myrrh. Many today still don’t want to see the King, but rather the presents of this world.
Which do have more value?
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sell all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.” (Matthew 13:44-46)
Knowing Christ intimately is worth more than anything else in the world. Jesus Christ is the treasure, the pearl of great value, and God’s gift to us!
“Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift.” (2 Corinthians 9:15)
The Gift must be received
This is a Gift available to everyone, but God does not force it onto anyone. We have to receive it, we have to take the package, open the box, and accept it as our own.
“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His Name, who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12-13)
Not all who heard about Him, or agreed with His teachings, not all who attended church, not all who try to follow all the rules, but the one who received Him. A gift you do not pay for, you do not have to earn, not something that you deserve. A gift you have to pay for is not a gift at all.
Many gifts received for Christmas or for a birthday end up lying on a shelf gathering dust. When there is a need for it from time to time, it is dusted off and used.
Maybe some gifts had not been opened yet and is still wrapped, maybe still under the tree, maybe a Bible. Maybe you have opened this gift from God many years ago, but lately you placed it on the shelf. You have been too busy, too distracted, too hurting, to give Jesus His rightful place in your life and to really experience His presence.
My prayer today is that you take Him back, give Him the rightful place in your heart, into your life. This Gift from God has a tag, a card, with your name on it. What better day than today to begin a life of fellowship, a relationship with Jesus Christ!
To experience the presence of the Present, Christ Jesus! Glory to God in the highest!