In our culture, the one whose birthday it is gets the presents. This is why most kids look forward to their birthday. It’s a big deal. Christmas is Jesus’ birthday. So who gets the presents? When I was a kid, if you’d have asked me whose birthday it was I probably would have thought about it and eventually told you it was Jesus’. But a fair amount of my Christmas joy came from my experience of Christmas as like another birthday for me. I got the presents. Something for Jesus? It never crossed my mind.
Some people with my history might feel guilty, taking so much joy on receiving presents for someone else’s birthday. Instead of guilt I feel two things. First, I feel gratitude for the greatest gift I ever received. Second, I feel a need to show my gratitude in concrete ways.
My best Christmas present ever was Jesus himself. Just over 2000 years ago God gave his only Son for us. I didn’t deserve the gift, I didn’t do anything to make it happen. It was pure loving grace on God’s part. Jesus was – and is – God’s Christmas present to us. I’m grateful beyond words.
I’d like to show my gratitude. Over the years I’ve thought of a few ways I can do that. Quite likely you’ve found some other ways – if you have, let me know. Here are three of the ways I’ve found to express my gratitude.
Share Jesus with others. If you give me a Gameboy for Christmas, I could play games on it. I could give it to my friend, and then my friend could play games on it. But only one of us can do it at a time. Some things are like that. When you share them or give them away it means you don’t have them any more. It’s not like that with Jesus. When we give Jesus away – when we tell others about Him and the gift of God that He is – we in no way diminish the gift He is to us. In fact, my perception is that the more I share Jesus, the more I experience Jesus myself. Jesus is like love in that way. The more you give love away, the more of it you have. One way – a non-threatening, non-confrontational way – that we can share Jesus this season is to invite people to our Christmas Eve services. If what we Christians believe is true, then it’ll be more than great music, fellowship, and the sharing of the Word. Jesus himself will show up.
Give yourself to Jesus. Christina Rossetti said it well, “What can I give him, poor as I am? If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb; if I were a Wise Man, I would do my part; yet what I can I give him: give my heart.” Is there some part of yourself that you’ve never given to Jesus – maybe a part you’re afraid that he wouldn’t like, or a part you want to hold on for yourself? Maybe it’s your future, your past, your possessions, your time that you’ve been holding back. Try asking him. Start simple. If you’ve been holding back many things, try giving him one part of yourself. See what happens.
Give to people in need. Perhaps the Lord has blessed you financially this year. I know he’s blessed our church. Though we have many projects ahead of us, we’ve reached some important goals this year. But if all we do is take care of our own needs, we’re missing Jesus.