For God so loved the world
that he gave his one and only Son…
Do you have a favorite Christmas carol? Do you know it by heart? If so, take a moment to sing it to yourself. Why is it your favorite? Is it the tune, the words, the meaning?
Whether it's a silly song or a serious one, it's probably easy to sing without thinking too much about what you're singing. You may not even know what it means or the history behind it, but that doesn't stop you from singing along.
Familiar Christmas songs, Christmas traditions kept year after year, and the gifts given and received often become so familiar, it's easy to overlook how special they are. Sometimes it takes a change, where certain elements are missing, to realize how much a part of our celebration they have become.
Perhaps you have experienced this: the year your family had to go without a tree, gifts, or some-one. If you haven't suffered such a loss, take a moment to think about what you would miss at Christmas—a little, and a lot.
I don't bring this up to put a damper on your holiday. Quite the opposite, actually. Like a festive carol that puts you in the Christmas spirit, I want to share words from the Bible that remind us what Christmas is all about. John 3:16 says, For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. If this is your first time hearing this verse, keep reading, and if it's so familiar you could say it in your sleep, you might want to listen in too, because I'm willing to bet you need to let the words go a little deeper.
God so loved… Because God loved everyone so much, He sent His Son, Jesus, to display His mercy...
Just think about that! I mean, what else could God have given to show how much He loves us? It's not like He didn't have other grand things to choose from. He could have given us each our own galaxy. He could have given us magical powers to fly. He could have given us rivers of chocolate and mountains of ice cream. But instead of going for whimsical gifts, He chose the most precious thing to Him. Not something He could wave His hand and create in an instant, but something irreplaceable. His most precious possession. Something that said, This is how much I love you. You are so loved.
You might be asking, 'But what is Jesus to me? Why is that such a great gift? No offense, God, but a new galaxy sounds pretty cool—or the house I've always wanted, an unending closet, a pool in the backyard…'
Yes, those things would be nice, and if you take time to think about it, He's probably given you a lot of good things—more blessings than you could think of before finishing this blog. But what makes Jesus so special? Why is He the best gift of all?
When Jesus came, His purpose was to proclaim God's love: His compassion; His nearness. God wasn't far away. He wasn't out of reach. He wasn't like a busy parent who is never home. He isn't like Santa who brings gifts at midnight but is gone in the morning. He is real and never more than a prayer away.
Like Christmas that wouldn't be the same without your favorite song, gifts, or your family, life would be very different without God's love. If Jesus never came, I'm pretty sure we wouldn't be here; but if we were, there would be no hope for the future, no comfort in sorrow, no happiness to be found anywhere, no love in our hearts. This world would be a very dark, horrible place. There would be no reason to sing, "Joy to the World".
The prophet Isaiah said, The people walking in darkness have seen a great light…For to us a child is born, to us a son is given…He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:2,6)
You see, when God sent Jesus, He was giving us Himself; His presence; His unconditional, unending love.
This Christmas I pray you will take that into your heart like never before. God could not have given you a greater gift, so believe it. You are so loved.
The LORD delights in you…He will rejoice over you as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride. (Isaiah 62:4,5 NLT)
Photos by Rick Jernberg, Dany Sabadini; FreeImages.com