Christmas time is gift time right? Whether we agree with that idea or philosophy this is clearly our practice. Whether Amazon.com, the small business down the street, or the big names at the mall; all experience a huge uptick in sales during these months leading up to the Christmas season. Our economy depends on it and we all are influenced by the temptation, desire, or “need” to join in the giving and receiving.
It’s not always easy however to discern the motive of the giver, either our own or those who give to us. Do I feel obligated to give, so I have to find something to save face in a relationship, though I would rather not if the truth be told? Does the person who just gave me a gift expect one in return or can I just say “thank you?” Is my gift meant to make a statement? Do all these gifts convey love and generosity, or something else? Although it would do us all well to stop and reflect a bit more about these things (to help with that check out http://www.adventconspiracy.org/#four-tenets), my real purpose with this devotional thought is to point to the fact that though human motives and intentions are sometimes difficult to assess, the Christmas story shows that God is pretty straightforward. God is a Gift-giver par excellence; the giver above all givers.
Matthew’s Gospel says the birth of Jesus Christ is Emmanuel, “God with us” (Matthew 1:23). John’s Gospel proclaim that the “Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of the father’s only son, full of grace and truth.” The gift of Christmas is not really the gift of a baby, with all the warm fuzziness that might convey (though this seems to be the perspective of some Christmas specials and movies). The gift of Christmas is really the gift of God throughout the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus; that God wants to be with us. God wants us to know him, so he steps into our world. There are all kinds of views people have of god and gods throughout the years; many tied to fear and pleasing the gods so they will be nice to us.
The Judeo-Christian God however, is one that stepping into the world so we might know him as the loving, caring create who desires that we should live abundantly at peace and shalom with God, fellow humans, self, and the world. This is the vision of eternity revealed in end of Revelation in the Bible. God is not a giver with self-centered motives; he is not a giver who gives with strings. To encounter such a Giver however, who takes us wherever we are, however we are and offers us new life, true life, and life as it was meant to be can powerfully transform us. God has given to us that we might thrive. This new life might lead us in new ways, new attitudes, and new actions but God’s heart to be with us and draw us to himself is unchanging in the midst of our misguiding thinking and inconsistencies in action. Encountering the great Gift-giver who gives His Son to reveal His nature and deliver the world, transforms our hearts so that we might be true givers as well.
So go ahead and receive the God’s gift in Jesus Christ this Christmas. Go ahead and give as was given unto you, with a true and honest heart that just desires to walk into people’s worlds with love, care, and the desire to know and be known.