By Rob Wilson
What is the best Christmas present that you have ever been given? A high tech remote control car? A new bike? Maybe a handmade card from your six year old, or even an engagement ring?
Well how about Jesus? Do you even consider Jesus as a Christmas gift given to you personally? John 3:16 states that “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son…” Jesus was a gift, given to us on that first Christmas. And what does this gift include? John 3:16 continues- “…that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” It includes eternal life! Isn’t this the thing that everyone has sought and hoped for since Adam and Eve sinned in the garden? Health food and skin cream to keep you looking young are a joke compared to possessing eternal life! Yet people in this country spend millions of dollars each year on products that they hope may add a few years to their life! And they are offered eternal life as a gift!
What does eternal life really mean though? What is it going to be like? Have you considered that recently? I’m afraid some people may envision life in heaven as perpetual life in an old folks home where you are kind of restricted to your small cloud and resigned to playing a small harp for entertainment. I’m afraid that some people’s view of heaven is that it will be kind of boring, but they would opt to go there because it beats the alternative. Is that your view of heaven consciously or unconsciously? I would argue that we won’t really know what it is like to truly live until we get to heaven. Our view of life is often so dimmed by the problems, pain, and sin that fills our experience here in this world, that we have no clue what real life is all about. For real life isn’t about having things, experiencing pleasure or comfort; real life is about relationship. Not the broken relationships of this world tarnished and perverted by sin, but the pure, infinitely satisfying relationship with the incredible Lord of the universe. For True life is only found in relationship with God (John 17:3). You see, the gift God gave us that first Christmas was the gift of himself! He longs for you to know him as your loving Father and to have you live with him forever, in paradise as His son or daughter (Ephesians 1:5). Not that we will ever begin to deserve this gift, but because God is an infinitely loving God, full of grace and mercy (Ephesians 2:7).
So how could any other Christmas gift compare to that of eternal life through Christ? Yet so many have never even bothered to open this gift! They have been preoccupied with things of so much lesser value, like a child playing with a shred of wrapping paper instead of opening the gift. Many doubt the existence of this great gift, or believe that it will require too much effort to use (like receiving a barbeque grill for Christmas which has 101 pieces to be put together and propane to be purchased before you could ever use the grill). Yet, eternal life through Christ is truly a gift, no strings attached, no assembly required. We don’t have to earn any part of it to receive or keep it (Ephesians 2:8-9). We don’t even need to get ready to receive it. One simply comes to Jesus in prayer. We simply ask him to forgive our sins (1 John 1:9), to give us faith in him, to change our hearts, and to give us that eternal life with him that he has promised us. Have you ever truly opened God’s Christmas gift to you? If not, open it now while there is still time! In John 3:16, the statement “…that whoever believes in him should not perish…” reflects the truth that the default position is to perish! Verse 18 restates this “…whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” This “perishing” is more than physical death, rather it is eternal separation from God in Hell! Once we have died it is too late to receive this all important gift! (note the parable about the rich man and Lazarus, Luke 19-31)
Maybe you have opened this amazing gift of eternal life through Christ, but like so many other Christmas gifts from past years, it has somehow been forgotten amid the worries and cares of this life. If so, it’s time to take hold of it again! Thank God right now in prayer for the incredible gift of himself and of his never ending love. Ask him to move in your heart again, to draw you closer to him, to show you the lesser gifts that you have been chasing after instead of him. Take time today and every day from now on to read God’s letters of love written to you, that fill the Bible. Ask him to help you find your greatest joy in knowing Jesus. For this gift of eternal life in a loving relationship with the Lord is not just for the next life, it is to be enjoyed today! (John 10:10; John 17:13)
Lastly, the incredible gift of Jesus is meant to be shared! Have you been selfishly keeping your relationship with Jesus to yourself, like a child hoarding his new toy? Or are you telling everyone you know about Jesus just like the shepherds did 2000 years ago in Bethlehem? (Luke 2:17-20) I hope you make a point this Christmas to celebrate the best Christmas gift you ever received by sharing it with your family and friends (Mark 16:15), and like the angels in the fields of Bethlehem, proclaim this “good news of great joy that [is] for all people!” Luke 2:10
If you would like to get to know Jesus better and have any questions, please contact us at Grace Baptist Church (585) 335-6190 or here on the web.
John 17:3 “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”
Ephesians 1:5 In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will”
Ephesians 2:7 “in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.”
Ephesians 2:8-9 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith- and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast.”
1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
John 10:10 “…I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”John 17:13 “…I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them.”