Summary: What makes any gift perfect - what makes God’s gift,his son, perfect for all of us?
The Perfect Christmas Gift
I don’t know about you but I find it almost impossible to buy presents for people, particularly at Christmas. I seem to wander around the shops for hours getting more and more frustrated - then I finish up buying something I saw in the first shop I was in three or four hours before! Or alternatively it gets to half an hour before closing so I grab the first thing that comes to hand.
Now if that gives you the impression that I find it difficult to make decisions or I’m always changing my mind, then you are quite wrong – it’s just that I always want to get the right gift. I want to see those eyes light up when the person tears off the wrapping paper and screams, “that’s just what I’ve always wanted!” The problem is how do you know just what they’ve always wanted?
It used to be relatively easy when it came to the kids – a doll, a train set, a scooter, a bike. That was all fairly straightforward. But today it’s i-pods and Play Station games. And just when you think you’ve sussed out what’s the latest and greatest computer game then it’s all changed. And as for music CD’s, I’ve never worked out whether the Pre-Fab Sprouts became the Black-eyed Peas while I wasn’t looking! And of course the older the person for whom you’re buying the gift, then the harder the choice. It’s an age old cliché but what do you buy someone who appears to have everything?
It’s ironic that Christmas, which we all see as a time of relaxation and fun with the family, can become as stressful as the hardest day at the office as we scour the shops for that perfect gift.
So why do we buy presents at Christmas? Why do we put ourselves through that angst? To put it another way – what’s the reason for the season?
You’ve listened to me complain because I have to go through the heartache of trying to find a couple of perfect presents for family and friends. Yet isn’t it true that we are here today celebrating precisely because our Heavenly Father, some 2 thousand years ago, delivered the perfect gift, not just for a few family and friends, but for everyone. That perfect gift was a Saviour, His Son, Jesus Christ.
And the wonderful thing about Jesus and his saving grace is that he is not difficult to find, he never changes his name and he never goes out of fashion. As we are told in the letter to the Hebrews, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.”
But thinking about Christmas and shopping for the right presents started me thinking – just what is it that makes a present perfect? What are the unseen elements that add sparkle and magic to any gift, that make the eyes light up and the smile grow from ear to ear? Because it is, I believe in looking at these elements that we will uncover the real reason for the season. The truth behind Christmas.
The first vital ingredient, I believe, for any perfect present is that it must be chosen with love. After all if you don’t care for the person to whom you are giving the present you won’t put too much thought into finding the right one, will you?
I remember when I was working, Christmas meant a flood of bottles, usually wine or whisky. Now don’t think for one moment that I wasn’t grateful – I most certainly was.
But most of them were simply filled with the fruits of the vine and not given as the fruits of love.
I suppose that’s one of the dangers of Christmas – it is often a time to fulfill obligations rather than present tokens of real love.
The bible has a very special word for the expression of real love. It is the Greek word ‘agape.’ The early Christians writers adopted this word to describe the overwhelming depth of God‘s love towards us. It’s perhaps best illustrated in the very well-known verse, John 3: 16. “God so loved the world that He gave (God gave out of real love, not out of any sense of obligation. And what did He give?) He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.” So God’s perfect gift to every one of us today is given out of His very real love, His agape love, for us. And that gift is His only Son, Jesus, who as Paul tells us in the letter to the Philippians, though he was equal with God, humbled himself to become one of us and to live among us and, most wonderfully to die in our place for the things we do wrong.