What Do You Want For Christmas?

Jen’s Gem: Experience the real meaning of Christmas.

Yesterday, the women’s Bible study I have been attending ended. The series, by Priscilla Shirer, which I highly recommend, was entitled “One in a Million.” Its focus was on the exodus of the Israelites out of Egypt to the Promised Land and the challenges faced along the way as they left their homes, spent 40 years in the wilderness, and finally reached their destination.

For four hundred years, this group of people prayed for someone to take them out of slavery. Their prayers were answered when Moses appeared on the scene. As they made their way out of Egypt, they encountered miracle after miracle. The parting of the Red Sea. Manna and quail from heaven. Clothes and shoes that did not wear out during their forty year trek (which should have taken 40 days, but we won’t go there right now.)

In short, because He loved them so much, God provided for them along the way – whatever they needed. He only asked that they obey His commandments. Ten rules that would enable them to live peaceably as a new nation. They would prosper, be healthy, and live a long life. Seems simple enough, right?

Sadly, they failed miserably and because of this, many did not reach the Promised Land. They did not see the fruits of their labors because they couldn’t follow ten simple rules.

Fast forward several hundred years and generations of that time tried to follow the 600+ laws they came up with in order to help them live their best lives. I’m no mathematical genius however, if people can’t adhere to ten rules, how can they be expected to follow hundreds?

Let’s jump ahead to the time of Jesus’ ministry. Mired in hundreds of do’s and don’ts, the people once again craved a Messiah to save them. Jesus came and gave the people a new rule. That’s right – rule, singular. Love one another.

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” (John 13:34 NKJV)

I’d like to draw your attention to a particular phrase in this sentence. “As I have loved you.” In addition to Jesus telling the people the “what” of the rule, He also is telling them the “how” of it. He didn’t just say “love one another.” He said love one another as I have loved you. That my friend is a whole different ballgame. That’s a love that you won’t find on a Valentine’s Day card or a heart emoji.

The love Jesus speaks of the love that He sees His Father in heaven showing Him. And we know from John 5:19, Jesus imitates His Father in everything.

“Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” (John 5:19 NIV)

So what does God’s love look like? It’s no secret. There’s no mystery about it. In fact, you have probably heard it dozens of times., especially if you’ve been to a wedding.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8 NIV)

This is the love that Jesus had for his disciples, for the people he preached to, taught, and healed. This is the same love He has for us – you and me. Think about that for a moment. There is not one human being on this planet who can love you the way God loves you. Not one.

Don’t believe me? Think about how you love others. Can you honestly say that you love like Jesus loves? Can you read through the verses above and say that you are always patient, always kind, never angry, always forgiving? Of course not! No one can! However, God knows this. He knows we can’t because we are not God.

But in His infinite love for us, He gave us His Son – not just to show us what God’s love looks like, but  to give us a second (and third, and fourth and….) chance when we mess up – which we all do. The Israelites didn’t get it. The people of Jesus’ time didn’t get it. Sadly, thousands of years later, we still don’t get it. We all fall short (Romans 3:23).

This Christmas, I would like to encourage you to take a break from the shopping, decorating, and baking and think about the reason for this season. Hallmark did not invent Christmas. Neither did Amazon. God did. We celebrate Christmas because of Jesus.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16 NKJV)

Jesus is God’s greatest gift to us. Better than Red Seas parting. Better than food from heaven. Better than shoes that don’t wear out. 

I pray that you discover God’s great love for you not just during Christmas, but every day of your life.

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