Christmas is my favorite holiday. From the twinkling lights to the specialty foods only bought or made during this time of year, I love it all. But, if I’m being honest, it’s really easy to get all wrapped up in that Christmas cheer. When that happens, we can forget about the real reason to celebrate – and that’s the coming of the Messiah, the birth of our Savior, and the sacrifice that was made on our behalf.
Usually, we don’t necessarily focus on sacrifice around the Christmas season – we look forward to celebrating the birth of Jesus. But, in reality, that in itself is a sacrifice.
When we look for the definition of “sacrifice”, Merriam-Webster defines it as, “destruction or surrender of something for the sake of something else; something given up or lost”.
You know, if we really want a great picture of some of the best examples of God’s character, we can look at young kids. Yes, I know that kids aren’t perfect, and I know for sure that mine aren’t. But, I also see some really great reminders of who God is through them. Here, specifically, talking about sacrifice, my six-year-old did something one Sunday morning that made me swell up with pride.
The Children's Ministry in our church puts out these activity bags, Busy Bags, almost every Sunday morning. These bags are how most parents with young kids are able to listen to the sermon and come away with applicable truths and encouragement. These bags, in my eyes, are a necessary Sunday morning tool for parents. But, parents aren’t the only ones excited about these Busy Bags; the kids look forward to the activities that are found inside. So, you can imagine when these bags are all gone, it can create a little bit of disappointment.
One Sunday morning, my son happened to get the last bag. Like every other kid around his age, he was excited that he didn’t miss out on getting one. But after getting it, he noticed that one of his friends was upset because there were no more Busy Bags. Here’s the real cool part that made me proud – my son went over and gave his friend his bag, unprompted. Now, let me push aside all my dad-pride… what an awesome example of sacrifice. My son gave away something that he wanted, looked forward to, and was excited about so that his friend wouldn’t miss out and would be able to enjoy that Busy Bag and all of its activities.
The innocence of a child and the unobstructed lens of love that they live their life through should serve as a major example for us grownups. This story points us back to reflecting on the sacrifice that was made during this Christmas season. God sent His only Son from a place of perfection, sinlessness, and glory to a place of darkness, struggle, and sin in the form of a baby in the most humble and innocent way – this is a sacrifice and the entrance of the Messiah.
1 John 4: 7-12 says, “Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his one and only Son into the world so that we might live through him. Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, if God loved us in this way, we also must love one another, God remains in us and his love is made complete in us”.
Sacrifice isn’t a theme of Advent; but love is. These two things go hand-in-hand. God loved us so much, before any of us were even born, that He sent His only Son to die a horrific death and to pay the price for our sins. This is the biggest act of love that will ever exist. And the fact that we, Christ-followers, have the opportunity and the responsibility to show and to share God’s love is incredible. As we make our way to Christmas and reflect on the coming Messiah, let us remember His sacrifice. Let’s, in a sense, push aside the yuck in our lives, the hardships that COVID has created for many, the differences that we find in others, the varying political view-points, and yes, even those twinkling lights and food that we all love so that we can be reminded of the love that our Creator, Sustainer, Provider has for us; the love that He showed us by sending His son and the love that He shows us by being exactly who He says He is and doing exactly what He says He'll do.
And as we reflect on that love, let’s be sure to share it with others. Afterall, Jesus commands us in John 15:12, “This is my command: Love one another as I have loved you.”