Image by Raise the Risk
True confession time—I admit to being a bit of a Christmas junkie. Not overly, like the house above, but the family puts up with my driving, often to a fairly distant town, hunting down great displays. The joy and good feelings of the season, the giving, the times to gather with family and friends all bring delight.
Granted, the first Christmas didn’t match that. His parents were alone, far from home and family, and likely delivered their firstborn in a cave that usually sheltered animals. A bloody process birth can be, in a muddy recess in the earth. Yet that suggests a deeper meaning that transcends the glitter of our sanitary manger scenes.
Later, near the end of his life on earth, Jesus connected Christmas and Easter: “the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). A few days later, Jesus’ blood turned the dust into mud as he served us. Imagine the holy Son of God absorbing all the sin and guilt of all time. Imagine the stab of separation from the Father he’d eternally been one with. That hints at what following Jesus entails. Serving. Sometimes at great cost and sacrifice and humility.
Now, a deeper confession. Twenty years ago I spent a few nights each week at my mom’s house in Long Beach. Then in her early 80’s and troubled by arthritis, she once mentioned how hard it was to trim her toenails. I knew that was a hint, but in my insufficient defense I didn’t understand that many women couch important requests in a subtle manner. If she had asked directly I would have done the deed. But, taking it merely as a statement of fact, which on the surface it was, I merely commiserated.
That lack of serving haunts me. The woman who gave me birth, who cleaned my diapers, who did so much for me, and I refused to serve her in such a small way. Here’s why.
I like serving, and don’t usually mind it. But some forms I draw back from. I suspect most of you do the same. But in Jesus’ serving, he didn’t draw back at all. He “showed them the full extent of his love” (John 13:1). What haunts me? I showed the limits of my love in showing the extent of it.
The meaning for us? If Christmas hold significance beyond the fun of the season, then we need to come to grips with serving, its importance, its costs, our limits on it, and what how we serve reveals about our faith.
Kick Starting the Application
What do you most enjoy about serving? What forms do you like the least? Avoid? Why? What troubles you about areas you resist?
Try this for a Christmas gift. After pondering the above, gift someone before the end of the year with tough service. Then, ponder how that gift brings you closer to Jesus. Feel free to tell us here or on Facebook, that could be a enticing discussion!