Prepare yourself. You're about to be encouraged beyond all encouragement. Are you ready? Here we go…
Very recently, you more than likely acted as close to Jesus as one possibly can.
It's true, so be happyabout it!
Seriously speaking, we all want that elusive, "look more like Jesus", moment. We want to know that under grace, we start, as Steve Brown from Key Life puts it,"smelling" like Jesus. I never saw it before, but this year, I caught a glimpse of it. I saw in the the time spent in my home and out celebrating the holidays with my extended family. I even bet if you peered into the homes of the non-religious celebrating the "pagan" aspects of the holiday, you might even see it there. You just can't get any closer to a Christ-like moment than at Christmastime.
It's present in the simple act of giving presents. Let's be honest, which one of you can stand up and say my child deserved every gift given him. Who earned it? Who lived a life so well that it should be devoid of coal and empty boxes? Not me and certainly not my kids. Sure we threaten with punishment and empty stockings, but the only thing truly empty is our threats. When that day finally hits, most kids will get at least some, if not all, of what they want.
They are given gifts they did not earn or deserve. They are given gifts completely at the whim and care of the gift givers, the parents.
Are you seeing it? It's really not that difficult an analogy. We give gifts to these little people that don't deserve it or earn it. We get God's gift of His Son in the same way. So on Christmas Day, the day we put aside to celebrate the birth of this most precious and glorious gift given to an entire undeserving world, we in some small way, emulate what he came to do for us. We give gifts to people in our immediate world, who really don'tdeserve it.
It's funny and a little sad that despite that, our reactions are not much different than the world's reaction to Christ. These gifts can bring a variety of different responses. Some react out of gratitude, even shedding tears for the kindness shown them. Others apathetically shove the gift aside, proving by their actions they didn't want it or appreciate it. Some even reject the gift, looking forward to returning it for something better.
I've acted unappreciative of these gifts as a child and I've done it as an adult. Psst, I even did it this past Christmas. More than likely so have you, even if you internalized it and wondered quietly if there is a gift receipt in the bag or how you mIght re-gift it to another. We have all fallen short in our actions, even as we have been the most Christlike in our giving to the undeserved during the holiday season. We, the undeserved, have for one glimmer of a day, acted with more grace than what we might act normally. It's not lost on me that it happens on the day we celebrate the greatest gift ever given.
Just something to think about.
A theological misfit landing in the area of Lutheranism, Dominick has come to deeply appreciate the truth of scripture as defined by the distinction between Law and Gospel. He has found freedom in knowing that Christ is his substitute on even his worst days. He has been for the course of his church life everything from chair-stacker to men's ministry leader. He is blessed with a wonderful wife and two great young men, which he can say without a doubt, he doesn't deserve. He counts among his favorite things: Star Trek, classic superhero comics, movies, Yankees and yes, he admits to it, the Knicks. He enjoys a good conversation and good food. Finally, he is grateful for the opportunity to share the message of God's Grace among all these great teachers, pastors and theologians and hopes he doesn't mess up big time. But then again, that's what grace is for, right?