Monday, December 26, 2022
Although Advent is technically over, we are highlighting the fourth Advent theme of "Peace" during this week following Christmas.
December 26, 2022
Last Christmas, my husband and I had the perfect gift for our children. We were finally getting the puppy they had been begging for all year. I was so excited to give them this gift, but there was a catch—they had to wait for it.
On Christmas morning, they were gifted a box full of puppy things.
Their reply? Silence. They didn’t get it! I only saw blank looks on their faces. And when they finally realized what the future held for them, they barely managed an unenthusiastic “yeah” before moving on to open their Pokémon cards.
It was a knife to my heart. I had prepared this gift with such love and time and knew that they would love it, but instead of being excited about the better future gift, they were drawn to the immediate mediocre gift.
This is what the ancient Israelites did when, through the prophets, God told them of his future Messiah. He knew that the gift he was giving them was the gift they needed, but they wanted immediate gratification instead. They saw the glitter of the nations around them and chose the present over the future.
For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
When the gift arrived, they didn’t recognize it. It didn’t look like they thought it should. So many ignored it, thinking that a Messiah is a king, not a servant. A Messiah will help tear down the walls of oppression, not tell us to love our enemies. So many rejected God’s perfect gift—the gift all of humanity needed.
Now, over 2000 years later, we stand in the same place. Since we just celebrated Christmas, we can see how God graciously came down to Earth as our perfect gift. Yet, we often still choose the instant gratification of the world around us.
We reject the giver of life itself in favor of trinkets. We settle for the perishable when we have access to the eternal.
When we celebrate Christmas, we are celebrating the gift of eternal life with God our Creator. We are remembering that apart from Jesus, there is no peace, no love, no hope. Apart from Jesus, we are dead, hopeless, and wretched. But we have a choice.
We can choose life—the best gift of all.
John 3:16 (NIV)
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
Have you ever given a gift that was rejected by the receiver? How did that feel? What are you doing with the gift God is offering you? What are some steps you can take to embrace the gift of Jesus in 2023?
Reflect on 2022 this week. Ask yourself what steps you have taken to deepen your relationship with Jesus. Set aside time every day to read your Bible and pray. If you are not participating in a Group, make a decision to join one next semester.
Heavenly Father, thank you for being the giver of life. Thank you for coming down among your people to offer yourself as our perfect gift. Forgive me for rejecting the eternal in favor of the temporary. Give me the wisdom to prioritize my relationship with you over the temptations of this world. Make me part of your holy and set apart people. Amen.
This post was written by Julie Mabus. Julie has a passion for thinking about big ideas, art, reading, and seeing God reveal himself through creation. She is married and is homeschooling her five young children.