Have you ever asked yourself why we give gifts to people we love on Christmas?
Here’s a hint:
“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” (1 John 4:9–11 NIV)
In this Christmas season, remember the amazing gift that God gave us: Eternal life through Jesus Christ! And that was a costly gift… it was not cheap! As the passage above says, God showed his love among us by sending his only Son into the world so that we might have true life. I think many of us totally take this for granted and disregard that God didn’t HAVE TO make that sacrifice.
When we read “God…loved us and sent his son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” it’s incredibly important to know what is meant by “atoning sacrifice.” That’s not a word or phrase that we hear very often outside of church. In the Temple, the Jewish Law required for a sheep to be sacrificed to make “atonement” through the offering (the sheep) dying for the person making the sacrifice. “Atonement” simply means “Agreement” or “reconciliation.” It means that something hindering a pure relationship has been taken away and completely removed. Through Jesus Christ’s death on the cross, he has made it possible for our sins to be atoned for; completely removed from blocking us with God, our Creator and Judge. Without the atonement of our sins, there’s an insurmountable obstacle keep us and God from having a pure and intimate relationship that we are meant to have. But God took the initiative to tear down that wall by sending his Son, Jesus Christ, to be born: fully God, yet fully human – the perfect sacrifice to make atonement for our sin!
As we reflect on the sacrifice that God the Son (Second Person of the Trinity) made in being born as a baby boy, remember that the sacrifice was made out of love. God doesn’t want anyone to remain in their sins, that’s why Jesus was born to die on the cross so that we could be forgiven by repentance and faith in Christ. The verse above also gives us a hint as to what the life of repentance and faith should look like: “Since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”
We give gifts on Christmas as a reminder of the gift that God gave us through Jesus Christ. Don’t give gifts this year simply out of social obligation… give them out of joy and thankfulness for what you have received from God.