It’s that time of year again; family obligations and frustrations, Santa and shopping, no room at the inn, or in our schedules or in our hearts. We adhere to traditions we once treasured, but are now more mandate than merry. We’ve exchanged the holy night for a frenzied life. We remind ourselves, “Keep calm and adult on, keep calm and adult on.”
But now, I invite you to stop and breathe as you read this. If stillness can’t be found now, save it for later for a time when a silent night finally descends and there’s not a creature stirring in your house.
Over the next few minutes let’s unwrap God’s most extravagant gift to you. Stick with me, I’m not about to shower you with Christmas clichés, but rather, I want to tell you about how God’s greatest gift is a reward for our sin.
I can hear you now: “No way!” “God hates sin, He’d never reward it.” “Justin, you must not know the character of God!” Let me prove it to you by sharing my favorite Christmas passage and unboxing the most extravagant gift He’s ever given.
In Romans 5, Paul compares the sin of Adam with the gift of Jesus.
15“But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many. 16Again, the gift of God is not like the result of one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. 17For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.”
When Adam sinned it changed the way God related to humanity. God put Adam in the garden “to work it and take care of it”. The first recorded exchange between God and Adam was a command (Genesis 2:16). He was God’s servant. But it’s possible, through a generous reading of Genesis 2 and 3, that God and Adam were friends. But, whether they were friends or master-servant, Adam’s sin changed their relationship for the worse. They were now separated by sin (Romans 5:14).
And that’s basically how it stayed. Until—until God’s plan for redemption broke through with the birth of Jesus.
It was a silent night, not unlike tonight. The stars shone, individuals flitted about the earth. Adults were “adulting” by fulfilling obligations they wished they didn’t have. They struggled, they doubted themselves, they doubted God and whether or not He truly loved them. Some even doubted if He even existed.
And it was into that very relatable context that Jesus was born. His birth was God’s response to our collective sin and doubt. But what makes the gift truly extravagant is that it is so much more than Adam’s trespass. In other words, the distance between humanity’s original relationship with God and our fallen state isn’t as great as the distance between our original relationship with God and our redeemed relationship with Him. Think about that.
In response to us wanting to be like Him—knowing good and evil—He became like us. In Christ, He chose to be constrained by a fleshly body and to a specific time period. He experienced ridicule, temptation, disrespect, and a horrific death. This gift was the Father’s expression of extravagant love for His lost creation. We are better off now, despite our sin than we were before. We’re better off because of God’s grace. His extravagant gift to us.
In Eden, we were servants, or perhaps friends, but now we are sons and daughters. No longer are we outside the family, now we are a part of His family! And since we’re family, we’re heirs! (Gal 4). As heirs we look towards a great family reunion in Heaven where for all of eternity we will dwell in unity.
What does this gift mean to you?
Take some time to pull away from the stress and busyness to contemplate God’s extravagant gift to you.
He knows all those things you hate about yourself. He knows the sins you struggle against…and those you’ve stopped fighting. He knows every nook and cranny of your life. And yet, this gift is for you!
Such extravagance stirs my heart. This God who pursues me and you. What else can He do to win us to Him? What more can He do to prove His love to you?
Perhaps you’ve drifted from Him this year. Perhaps you’ve never surrendered to His plan for you. It’s okay. God’s love is so extravagant that He invites you today to turn around.
Will you trust Him day by day with your priorities, with your choices, with the very purpose of your life?
Will you be His disciple?