Have you ever tried to explain Christmas to a 3-year-old?
I have. No matter how I tried to explain it, the little child asked the same question, “When is Santa coming with my gifts?” Even as adults, although we don’t ask for Santa Clause, we still associate Christmas with giving and receiving gifts.
And there’s a good reason for this. The tradition of giving at Christmas started with God. He gave us His greatest gift by sending Jesus to the world to die for us and bring forgiveness of sins. Jesus also received gifts when the wise men came to celebrate His birth. Christmas is a time of giving.
But if we’re not careful, this tradition of giving can become inwardly focused and all about our own wants and needs. We can get carried away with what our culture tells us to do without even asking the question if there’s anything wrong with it. It’s good for us to remember God’s call to come apart and to be sober-minded.
The Almighty God who spoke a few words and billions of galaxies came into being became a little baby. He came to live and experience all kinds of suffering for us, ultimately dying in order to bring us salvation. That is what Christmas is all about.
So as we make the final preparations for our Christmas celebrations, let us ask ourselves the question: What can I give to Christ?
Let me tell you a story about a man named Ramu.
Each year, Gospel for Asia helps provide gifts, like sewing machines, goats and rickshaws, for the poorest of the poor that help break the cycle of poverty. Since 2007, more 1.7 million people have received gifts like this.
One of the families impacted through this project is Ramu’s. His family was so poor they couldn’t afford even basic necessities. They were literally starving. In the midst of their desperate need, two of our social workers went and visited their home at the outskirts of their village and presented them a cow. Ramu immediately began to break down, weeping tears of joy and relief.
Controlling his emotions and wiping his tears, he responded, “I was contemplating committing suicide tonight. I can no longer bear to see my wife and children suffer, and I feel so helpless to do anything. Thank you for coming. Now I know there is a God who cares for us.”
Later the workers said, “Giving that poor man that cow became the greatest gift I ever gave to Christ.” Isn’t this what Christ meant when He said, “Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me” (Matthew 25:40)?
This Christmas, may we seek to understand more of this God who loved us enough to step into time and space and live among us, whose heart is for the poor, the starving and the desperate. Let us take time to consider those around us and their needs—to see the slum dwellers and street children, beggars and orphans. I encourage you to go and find ways to serve and bring hope. Visit the sick in the hospital, those in prison or someone who is lonely, and know you are giving a gift to Jesus. You are Christmas to those around you.