“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
(John 14:6, ESV)
By now, most of us are well into the throes of preparation for Christmas (just 17 days left!), and for many of us, preparation for the big day includes at least some measure of shopping for gifts. While it can be a lot of fun to find ways large and small to bless those you love, if you’re anything like me, you’re often left with at least a small percentage of folks on your list who are incredibly difficult to buy for. There are different reasons for this difficulty, but especially in an affluent culture like ours, the obstacle often comes down to some version of this fact- This person doesn’t really need anything.
(Note- I have a theory that the older a person gets, the more true this becomes. This is why we often buy our older family members and friends really strange and random gifts. For example, my 84 year old grandfather often gets buckets of car washing supplies for birthdays and Christmas. I don’t know that he minds, but seriously…when was the last time you thought to yourself how much you would enjoy opening up some Armor All on Christmas morning??? That’s my point.)
But what if I told you that there is at least one gift that everyone, without exception, needs desperately this Christmas? And what if I told you that if you have trusted and followed Jesus, you already have this gift wholly in your possession? And what if I told you that God gave you that gift not only so that you could receive it, but also with the expressed intent that you would “regift” it to others too?
I’m talking, of course, about the gift of Jesus, and of the Good News that rescue from sin and restoration to a right relationship with God is available to all in Him. Jesus is God’s great Christmas gift to the world, to sinners and rebels like you and me. And while most of us get it at some level that this is a great gift worth celebrating, I’m not certain that we recognize just how necessary this gift from God was and is– not only for us, but for everyone else too.
The necessity of Jesus- the Immanuel, “God with us”- is something to which we quickly and easily give lip service, especially in conservative circles, but often, our actual day to day practice doesn’t reflect this conviction. If we’re not mindful, we often buy in to the subtle but dangerous “alternative Gospel” peddled commonly in our culture- that if we’re sincere, if we try hard, and if we behave well (especially compared to other, less polished sinners), in the end God’s good with us, and us with Him. This is a “Gospel” built on the hope of performing for God rather than trusting in Him- and in the end, it’s a dead end.
A lack of deeply rooted Gospel conviction regarding the depth of our sin, the just consequences it brings, and the exclusivity of salvation in Jesus will inevitably lead us to treat Jesus as an optional religious “add on” to life rather than the central and critical figure He really is in all of life and eternity. Practically, this means two things- One, we will live with far less humility and gratitude toward God than we ought, and two, we won’t be very motivated to give the gift of Jesus to anyone else, especially to those that seem to have their stuff together, who seem to be getting along in life just fine without Jesus.
Somewhat unconsciously, we begin to look at others who we’ve categorized as “good” much like those difficult-to-buy-for folks on our shopping lists, believing that we have nothing of real value to offer them this Christmas, or anytime else for that matter. In the process, we neglect the reality that as followers of Jesus, we possess the best news the world has ever known, the gift that everyone desperately needs- and as a result, we keep it to ourselves.
This Christmas, I want to challenge you to think quite differently about God’s Christmas gift to the world- and to do something different with it, too. I’m convinced that we need to recover a thorough conviction of the necessity of Jesus for salvation that goes well beyond just a passing theological statement and works itself out in practical obedience to God’s call to “regift” what we have in Him to others, no matter how “good” they might seem to be on their own.
The bottom line is this- There are people in your life today who need this gift, and if you have it, it is your privilege and your responsibility to share it with them out of heart of love and compassion. At some point, you believed Jesus was necessary for you, enough to respond to the Gospel message of His grace available through faith. Now, will you be convinced that He is equally necessary for others too, enough to do something about it? I pray you will, this Christmas and beyond, and in so doing, to “regift” to others the greatest gift this world has ever known.
To whom do you need to give the gift of Jesus this Christmas- and beyond?
Practically, what is your first step in this “regifting” process?