THE GIFT

Activated - - NEWS - By Keith Phillips Keith Phillips was Ac­ti­vated’s ed­i­tor-in-chief for 14 years from 1999 to 2013. He and his wife Caryn now work with the home­less in the U.S.A.

There are some of us … who think [to] our­selves, If I had only been there! How quick I would have been to help the Baby. I would have washed His linens. How happy I would have been to go with the shep­herds to see the Lord ly­ing in the manger! Yes, we would. We say that be­cause we know how great Christ is, but if we had been there at that time, we would have done no bet­ter than the peo­ple of Beth­le­hem. … Why don't we do it now? We have Christ in our neigh­bor. — Martin Luther (1483–1546)

Christ­mas can be likened to a Christ­mas gift, where the giver is God, the gift is Je­sus, and the re­cip­i­ent is both the whole world and each of us per­son­ally. The anal­ogy is based on what is prob­a­bly the best known and most im­por­tant verse in the Bi­ble, John 3:16. I’d heard the anal­ogy many times over the years and even used it my­self, but the fol­low­ing email from Paloma Srid­har in Ban­ga­lore, In­dia, added a sur­pris­ing twist: I had set out to teach John 3:16 to my youngest sis­ter, Rosie, six, but in­stead came to a mile­stone re­al­iza­tion my­self. Our con­ver­sa­tion went some­thing like this:

“Did you know, Rosie, that it only takes one verse from the Bi­ble to ex­plain to peo­ple how they can be sure they’ll go to heaven when they die?” “Which one?” Rosie asked. “John 3:16. It goes like this—‘For God so loved the world that He gave His only be­got­ten Son ….’”

“I know that one!” Rosie in­ter­rupted.

“All right then. Can you say it for me?”

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only for­got­ten Son, that who­ever be­lieves in Him should not per­ish but have ev­er­last­ing life. John 3:16.”

“Very good! But God doesn’t have an only for­got­ten…”

I stopped my­self mid-sen­tence. How easy it is to get so caught up in the rush of daily liv­ing that we don’t give Je­sus so much as a pass­ing thought! How true—and how sad, es­pe­cially on His birth­day! Just think how you would feel if on your birth­day ev­ery­one par­tied and gave one an­other gifts, but left you sit­ting alone in a cor­ner un­no­ticed. This Christ­mas, let’s re­mem­ber to thank God for His in­com­pa­ra­ble gift to the world, Je­sus.

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