I once observed a little child when she was given a present. The wrapping paper was quickly removed. The box was opened and when she saw her present, her eyes lit up like any child’s would. She played with her gift for a while. But soon, her attention shifted to the box and the colourful wrapping paper. I was amused to see her more interested in the box and the paper than in the actual gift she had been given.
We may laugh, but we often do the same at Christmas time. We celebrate Christmas with gusto, but our attention is often given more to the boxes and wrapping paper than to the actual Gift of Christmas. I am not talking about the gifts we spend hours buying and exchanging at Christmas. I am referring to the greatest gift—the gift of God’s Son, which Christmas celebrates.
Jesus is God’s unique Gift to us; He is the “One and Only” (John 1: 14, 18). He is God’s indescribable Gift to us (2 Corinthians 9:15). Nothing that we give and receive at Christmas can match God’s Gift to us. He truly “pitched His tent among us” (John 1:14) and came as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (v. 29).
Tragically God’s Gift was not well-received. This “world did not recognize him” and “his own did not receive him” (v. 10-11). Yet the promise remains, that all who received God’s Gift would become the children of God (v. 12).
John’s gospel points to the Gift of Christmas without any distractions or sentimentalities. There is just the Gift; no packaging or wrapping paper; not embellished with cultural and popular practices – so that we do not miss the Gift that is extended to us.
Today we face the danger of wrapping the Christmas Gift with cultural and sentimentalised trappings and commercial glitz – that serve to turn our attention away from the Gift of Christmas. May we not be like the little child who ignored the gift and played with the wrapping paper. Rather, may we receive into our hearts the best (and essential) Gift of Christmas from our Father in heaven. That is the best thing that can happen at Christmas.
- What can you do this Christmas season to stay focus on Jesus? What might possibly distract you?
- How might you celebrate Christmas differently this year at home or in church so that Jesus Christ remains as the main focus?
Excerpt and adapted from Apprenticed to Jesus by Robert Solomon. © 2014 by Robert Solomon. Used by permission of Armour Publishing. All rights reserved.