Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Funny Thing About Christmas

I've just returned (well, not JUST. About three hours ago I did...) from the Stone Family Christmas gathering (my mother's side of the family). We did it a day early this year and yes, we are all at a loss of what we will do on Christmas Eve now.

Although half the family was missing, so many things remained the same. Chatting all long-time-no-see like with cousins. Stuffing our faces with finger foods. Singing "Children, Go Where I Send Thee" at the top of our lungs and in perfect three-part harmony. We are a musical family.

But also, asking the many kiddos what they've asked Santa for and if they've been good enough all year to get it. This is something we all do when we get around kids at this time of year, and it hit me today just how funny the whole thing is.

We sing, "he's making a list and checking it twice, gonna find out who's naughty or nice." We've ingrained into ourselves and our society, this figure, this man who gives gifts only to good little girls and boys. It's a ploy to get good behavior out of our kids. When my nephew starts acting up, the first thing that comes out of our mouths is, "Santa's still watching."

We've conjured up this idea that we have to perform for our gifts. There's this imaginary list that we try and try and try so hard to get on.

But the funny this is that the real meaning of Christmas reflects the exact opposite. Christmas, the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. The very nature of God come to Earth in human form to save the entire world from the wrath of sin. He's THE gift of the season. The FREE GIFT of the season.

Unlike our gifts from Santa, we don't have to perform to receive the gift of Jesus Christ. In fact, there is nothing, absolutely nothing, that we can do, on our own, to get Jesus. Nothing. That's why it's called MERCY -- compassionate or kindly forbearance shown toward an enemy, the discretionary power of a judge to pardon someone, something that gives evidence of divine favor.

The bible says we were enemies of Christ but now we are co-heirs with Him in the kingdom of God. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. And we didn't have to do anything or perform any task or act a certain way to gain His favor. He met us where we were -- dead deep down in our sin -- and He laid down his life and raised us up out of the yucky mess that was our life and now, when we confess Him as Lord, we will reign with Him in eternity.

And, we don't have to wait until Christmas day to receive the gift. It's there for our taking every single day.

Now, that's a gift worth taking.

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