There was once a successful businessman who came from a large, close-knit but hard-up family. One year, when it came to December, he realised that he was far too busy to buy his relatives presents. So he decided to send each of them – there were twenty of them – a £100 cheque. He brought a pile of Christmas cards and a cheque book into his office and, between answering the phone and holding business meetings, managed to write a single sentence in twenty separate cards: “I thought you should buy your own Christmas present this year!”
This Christmas, don’t overlook the fact that God loves us.
Then, having carefully written out the cheques, he sent everything off to be posted before returning to the frantic disorder of his work. As Christmas Day approached he began to be troubled at the lack of response. The cards had evidently arrived, yet he received none of the gratitude he had expected and he had very few presents given to him in return. In the New Year, he began to clear his cluttered desk. As he did so he found, buried under a pile of documents, twenty signed cheques.
Christmas can promise much but fail to deliver. As with the businessman’s Christmas cards, some important things seem to get overlooked in our society. Three are found in a well-known verse from John’s Gospel:
“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.” (John 3:16, NIV).
The first thing is God’s emotion towards us. Some people believe God is angry towards them, others that he is a remote, uncaring figure. But the Bible says that God cares so deeply about us that the only word that can be used is love. And John tells us that God’s love is towards ‘the world’. That covers everybody, including you and me. This Christmas, don’t overlook the fact that God loves us.
He sacrificed himself for us.
The second thing is God’s action towards us. God’s love is not simply a fuzzy warm feeling; it expressed itself in costly action. He gave his one and only Son, Jesus, for us. The Christmas story is all about God himself coming to earth. The Bible makes it clear that, in Jesus, God came not just to tell us the truth as a religious teacher, or even to live out a perfect life as a role model, but to take upon himself the judgement that was rightfully ours. He sacrificed himself for us. This Christmas, don’t overlook the fact that God gave his Son for us.
The third thing is our reaction to God’s action. It is not enough to hear about Jesus; we need to believe in him. We need to do something about the good news of Jesus – to accept it in our minds, and acknowledge it by thanking God, by sharing it with others, and by living it out in our lives.
This Christmas, don’t overlook the truth that God cares for us and has given Jesus for us. And let’s also not miss the opportunities this time of year brings to share these important truths with the people around us.