Have you ever been to a GIFT EXCHANGE party….one where you get to pick a gift from the pile…and then spend the next 2 hours “stealing” the gifts from one another until there are no more gifts to be selected from under the tree? This game is so fun…it can also be somewhat aggressive! I have seen wonderfully kind friends…show another side that is cut throat, greedy and scheming! One might think we were playing some variation of The Hunger Games where only the fittest survive!
I have stolen gifts, tackled folks, teamed up with my husband…all in order to secure “the perfect gift” by the end of the game….only to discover that my hard fought for treasure, was an 11×14 picture frame of a ridiculous picture of a friend’s head!
Lesson to be learned….the wrapping paper doesn’t define the value of the gift inside!
In Luke 2:4-7 we discover that God didn’t wrap Jesus, the Messiah, in the finest wrapping paper either. Mary’s pregnancy was full of raised eyebrows and speculation in her community, her arrival in a crowded Bethlehem demonstrated that not only was there “no room in the inn”…but worse than that, no one looked at her and valued her enough to even make room for her in the inn! A judgement was made by others, based upon outer appearances, that giving birth in a stable/cave for animals, would be adequate for her.
The Messiah, the very one that the people had cried out to God to send, came…and they missed His entrance…all because He was wrapped in wrapping paper that they deemed insignificant. Why….could God possibly plan and be OK with presenting Jesus in such a fashion?
Because….Jesus’ value, His identity, was never established by the way He was wrapped on the outside.
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death--
even death on a cross!
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
Jesus knew WHO HE WAS. GOD, incarnate, Emmanuel….God With Us.
His outer appearance did not define Him.
The opinions of mankind did not define Him.
Father, as I ponder my own life and how much time and energy I put into my own presentation, my appearance and first impressions…may I hold on dearly to the source of my own identity….YOUR OPINION!
I am defined by what YOU say about me:
I am your child. John 1:12
“Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—”
I am deeply Loved. Romans 8:38,39
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Regardless of the way I look on the outside…or the opinions of others about me…my value and significance comes from who I am on the inside….and YOU, Father, are the one who sees who I am…and calls me His much loved child.
This Christmas, as you tear apart paper, rip tape and untangle ribbons…may the Holy Spirit remind you…that your identity and value…are defined inwardly, by the ONE who created you and valued you enough, to die for you on the cross.
Oh yes, and remember, be wary of large gifts in frames, that head shot picture I won years ago is still out there making the rounds!