One year, I was getting really negative on the whole commercialization, materialization, gift giving aspect of Christmas. "It completely distracts from Christ!" I complained. "There is literally no point. We could just have a nice devotional, sing some songs and that would be good enough. But no, we have to run around shopping and wrapping. We have to worry about maybe not giving enough or giving to much. It is so distracting," I argued. I still think that Christmas needs to be less commercialized and done in humble moderation, but I finally realized why gift giving makes sense as a physical expression of the birth of Christ.
God gave us his Only Begotten Son as a gift to the whole world to save us from the curse of spiritual and physical darkness. Only through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ could we become clean from our mortal experience and regain the presence of God. Jesus gave his life willingly to save us from an eternity in darkness, sin and death.
John 3:16-17 tells us, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved." Jesus is the greatest gift. His precious life he freely gave.
So the question is, are you going to receive it? Are you going to receive the gift that Jesus gave for you? And, what does this gift, a gift that cost Jesus his life, what does that precious gift inspire you to do or to become?
Our salvation is a precious gift indeed and purchased at a great cost. It would be ungrateful of me to not accept his gift of salvation. Some Christian philosophers and apostles and prophets have called it the great exchange.
In 1 Peter 2:25-26 explains this exchange saying, "Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls." Jesus took our place in baring our sins and our punishment so that we could live in righteousness being fully healed.
It was meditation upon the great cost of my salvation and the fact that Christ exchanged places with me so I could receive righteousness, that lead me to give my life to him. I realized that the greatest thing I could do to show my gratitude to the Creator of the Universe, the Savior and Redeemer of my soul was to trust him with my whole heart.
Every winter, as I ponder the great condescension of our Lord to leave his throne and dwell in flesh among sinful men, for the purpose and intent to suffer and die on their behalf to set them fee, I feel my heart ache with gratitude. The lyrics to bleak mid winter come to mind:
"What can I give him?
Poor as I am
If I were a shepherd
I would give a lamb
If I were a wise man
I would do my part
But what I can I give him
Give him my heart
Give him my heart."
I encourage you to take time to ponder Jesus's Christ as being the greatest gift extended to you this season and in every season.