All over the world Christmas is very much the time for giving and receiving presents. The following 3 minute video is of children from the Metro Atlanta Boys and Girls Club in the United States. 83% of these children come from low income families, some of which are not able to afford even a Christmas tree. In the 3 minute video they are faced with a tough choice. Just to warn you, the video may make you cry, but it's well worth watching!
What makes the video so fascinating for me is it also illustrates the true satisfaction that comes from giving rather than receiving. The simple decision of the children to choose to give rather than receive reminds me of Jesus' own words, "It is more blessed to give rather than receive." (Acts 20:35)
As we approach Christmas, I am also reminded of Paul's words in 2 Corinthians 8:9:
"For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich."
In that single sentence we have the meaning of Christmas beautifully encapsulated. The Bible explains how although Jesus Christ is equal with God the Father and the Holy Spirit, He chose to leave the security of this perfect relationship to come to earth for you and me. He who had all the riches of heaven should choose to humble Himself and come to earth as a baby.
Here are 4 surprising consequences of this decision:.....
1. Jesus came to identify with our own ordinariness.
It is staggering to consider that Jesus chose to come into this world born not in some rich country or palace, not the child of wealthy influential parents, but the child of a poor peasant family with no influence. Instead of a beautiful palace with technology and every comfort, He had the dirty manger where animals eat.
In my own life Jesus has been my upside down king who has again and again challenged me to think about what is really valuable and worthwhile in this world. His decision to take on the ordinary challenges me to see that the most important thing in the world is love for others. He came to identify with our ordinariness.
2. He came not to be served, but to serve.
Although the Bible says that He is the everlasting king of the universe and one day everyone will have to bow before Him, He did not cling onto His power or authority. (see Philippians 2:5-11)
He chose to live a life of service.
More than that, He came to show that true greatness is shown in service. (See The Art of the Basin and Towel). That has been a great challenge again to me as I look at my own desire to put myself first. But Jesus shows us what true service and humility is.
3. He shows His power not through strength, but through weakness.
This is such a radical concept today as it was in the first century. Crucifixion was the lowest place in the Roman world - it was the ultimate punishment. And yet through that apparent weakness came life and salvation. Jesus chose the cross for you and me.
We celebrate His birthday at Christmas, but much more important than His birth is that He came to die. (See A Day that Changed the World).
4. He says come to me by first acknowledging you can't come on your own.
Time and again God has shown His power in my life by me first admitting how weak I am. I talk personally about that in the 15 minute video 'Just As I Am' along with 9 Ways To Look At Your Failures With The Eyes of Faith. Also weakness and apparent failures teach us important truths about life - see What Can J.K. Rowling Teach Us About Failure? and Failure and Depression: The Other Side of Lincoln's Life.
How does the video or these reflections resonate with you?
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