I think I’ve spent my whole life embracing and internalizing the Gospel of Christmas. During my life as an educator, I spent a lot of time trying to do the same with reciprocity. Whether in the classroom or the boardroom, among students or fellow staff, the principle is the same, both parties commit to sharing the good.
This holy season, Dear Reader, reciprocity has awakened a new understanding of how integral it is to the Gospel of Christmas. It all started with giving.
For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son. God gave his Son so that whoever believes in him may not be lost, but have eternal life.
John 3:16 ICB
As with everything else, God created reciprocity. He knew the only way to bring His children into His eternal Kingdom, was for Him to give. What better, more everlasting way to give, but to give His only Son? And what does God ask us to give in exchange for eternal life with Him?
It’s simple, really. He asks for time . . . with us. He asks that we give Him our time in learning about Him, discovering the depth and breath of His love for us. He asks that we intentionally devote time getting aquainted with Him, drawing close to Him. And when we do, when we give ourselves, by spending time with Him, He gives countless blessings in return.
Dear Reader, when we accept God’s gift of His Son, and share our gifts of time with Him we kickstart the Gospel of Christmas into a spiral of reciprocity out into our world.
But to as many as did receive and welcome Him, He gave the right [the authority, the privilege] to become children of God, that is, to those who believe in (adhere to, trust in, and rely on) His name—
John 1:12 AMP
Did you ever walk into a room, afraid you wouldn’t know ANYONE, Dear Reader? Afraid there was lipstick on your teeth and no one to tell you.
Scared you wouldn’t know how to eat food you’d never seen before, or, after being introduced, mispronounce someone’s name?
I wonder if Jesus sometimes felt that way as He traveled this fallen sod. I wonder if some of His disciples felt like they didn’t belong, that the world was an awkward place until He found them. Jesus chose and welcomed each one.
Painfully, Scripture tells us that not everyone welcomed Jesus. Do you think He knew that’s how it would be, Dear Reader? Did He already know that being a Christ-follower then would be as challenging as it is today?
When we give Jesus the gift of hospitality, He gives us the right to become children of God. Giving and receiving gifts,(blessings) is one way we can model and pass on the reciprocity found in the Gospel of Christmas.
Then we, your people, the ones you love and care for,
will (give thanks to) you over and over and over.
We’ll tell everyone we meet
how wonderful you are, how praiseworthy you are!
Psalm 79:13 MSG
This is a partial view of the welcome the local boys in blue received after winning the World Series. Some accounts were that over a million people turned out, and few wanted to leave. Celebrations went on for months after the victory. The book of Ezra describe a similar celebration, I think of it as a preview to heaven.
Dear Reader, can we begin to glimpse the glory of being in the presence of God? When we see the stories of our lives in reverse, will we begin to fully grasp how great His love is, and always has been for us?
Will we stand in awe in the biggest homecoming parade ever, never ceasing to praise God or wanting it to end?
We hover between the shadow of the manger and the doorway to a new year. Do we dare shift our paradigm a little? Can we intentionally incorporate more reciprocity shown by the Gospel of Christmas? My hopes and prayers, Dear Reader, are that you would genuinely experience the divine of Christmas as summarized in the words of the Apostle John:
True love is God’s love for us, not our love for God. God sent his Son to die in our place to take away our sins. That is how much God loved us, dear friends! So we also must love each other . . . And so we know the love that God has for us, and we trust that love.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God lives in him . . . We love because God first loved us.
1 John 4:10-11, 16, 19 ICB