Summary: During Christmas season we often say, “God’s presence is more important than presents.” But the amount of time and effort we spend on shopping for gifts may indicate otherwise. So, what would Christmas be like if we truly celebrated God’s presence?
Opening illustration: Oswald Chambers once wrote: “It is not God’s promises we need, it is [God] Himself.”
At Christmastime we often say, “God’s presence is more important than presents.” But the amount of time and effort we spend on shopping for gifts may indicate otherwise. In certain parts of the world, people give gifts on December 6. By doing so, they have the rest of the month to focus on Jesus and the wonder of His birth, God’s perfect gift to us.
When we say we want God’s presence more than presents from others, perhaps we’re being truthful. But how many of us can honestly say that we want God’s presence more than His presents?
Often we want gifts from God more than we want God Himself. We want health, wealth, knowledge, a better job, a better place to live. God may indeed want to give us these things, but we can’t have them apart from Him. As David said, “In Your presence is fullness of joy” (Psalm 16: 11). Presents may make us happy for a time; earthly gifts from God may make us happy temporarily, but fullness of joy comes only when we remain in a right relationship with God.
Let us turn to the first letter of John, chapter two to see what he tells us about God’s presence in our lives.
Introduction: The truth of Christ, abiding in us, is a means to sever from sin, and unites us to the Son of God, John_15: 3, John_15: 4. What value should we put upon gospel truth! Thereby the promise of eternal life is made sure. The promise God makes, is suitable to his own greatness, power, and goodness; it is eternal life. The Spirit of truth will not lie; and he teaches all things in the present dispensation, all things necessary to our knowledge of God in Christ, and their glory in the gospel. The apostle repeats the kind words, “little children;” which denotes his affection. He would persuade by love. Gospel privileges oblige to gospel duties; and those anointed by the Lord Jesus abide with him. The new spiritual nature is from the Lord Christ. He that is constant to the practice of religion in trying times shows that he is born from above, from the Lord Christ. Then, let us beware of holding the truth in unrighteousness, remembering that those only are born of God, who bear his holy image, and walk in his most righteous ways.
What does God’s Presence do?
1. Creates Godly bonding and Assurance of Eternal life (vs. 24 – 25)
Remain: Here there is a play on words with the three uses of remain (menw) in 2: 24. The first two uses in the verse refer to realities which “reside” in the believer, which in this case refers to the message the readers have heard from the beginning. The third use refers to the permanence of relationship between both God and Jesus with the believer. This is the only instance in the Gospel and Letters of John where the verb remain (menw) refers to the believer residing in both the Father and the Son together, although a similar concept (without using mevnw) is expressed in John 17: 21 and 1 John 5: 20. Implicit in the use of remain (menw) here is also the situation with the opponents, who did not “remain” in the apostolic teaching (1 John 2: 18-19) and thus do not “reside” in the Son and in the Father.
Bonding is the foundation of any relationship, for without it love and closeness don’t develop as they should. It seems to work best at the very start of a relationship, such as when a baby is born. But what about when a person is born again but fails to bond with God? Bonding most naturally occurs in the first stages of a relationship, but if it doesn’t happen then it can come about later especially during times of affliction. Like the shepherd who breaks the unruly sheep’s leg so it learns to trust and depend on the shepherd, sometimes God allows trials to come into our lives to deepen our bonding with Him. A Christian who hasn’t bonded with God won’t love or obey Him. How about you? Have you bonded with God? Here John is encouraging and exhorting us to bond with Christ and the Father so that we will learn to trust, have faith and grow in intimacy with God, this in effect will results in our eternity with Him forever.
By letting God’s Word live in us, so that we can live in God brings about eternity with Christ. God has promised eternal life to all who believe on Christ Jesus. So they, who receive and continue in communion with the Father and the Son, shall have this eternal life.