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Gift(s)

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If Jesus IS the greatest gift the world has ever known, then there are some implications – a trickle down – of what this means for the Christian (especially at Christmas).

1)      Nothing can be better than Jesus.

You can never have something BETTER than what you’ve got in Jesus. In The Weight of Glory, C.S. Lewis once wrote, “He who has God and everything has no more than he who has God only.” Where we Christians quickly jump off track is thinking “Jesus and _____” is necessary for our satisfaction. Jesus and a hefty salary; Jesus and a doting partner; Jesus and successful kids; Jesus and loyal friends; Jesus and a notable career.

The “and” part of those equations is slight, sly, and ultimately unsatisfying. Whatever comes after the and will always leave you wanting more. It won’t be enough; it can’t be enough.

As a kid I can remember my mom joking about folks we’d hear who won millions of dollars in the lottery. She’d quip, “They say that money can’t make you happy, but I’m already happy, so I’d take several million dollars to boot.”

I think that sentiment illustrates well how Christians think about Jesus. We know (at least we know the right thing to say we know) that Jesus is enough. So, we think, “I’ve already got him, so it sure would be nice to have money, friends, popularity, acclaim, success, and comfort.” Consider that this is the first step to an unending pursuit of that which cannot satisfy.

2)      Jesus as your greatest gift frees you to enjoy other gifts.

When Jesus IS your greatest gift, friends, career, recognition, success and the like find their useful, rightful place. When you don’t need these things for your joy, you’re freed to enjoy them.

Lewis is again helpful here:

“The woman who makes a dog the center of her life loses, in the end, not only her human usefulness and dignity but even the proper pleasure of dog-keeping.

The man who makes alcohol his chief good loses not only his job but his palate and all power of enjoying the earlier (and only pleasurable) levels of intoxication.

It is a glorious thing to feel for a moment or two that the whole meaning of the universe is summed up in one woman—glorious so long as other duties and pleasures keep tearing you away from her. But clear the decks and so arrange your life (it is sometimes feasible) that you will have nothing to do but contemplate her, and what happens?

Of course this law has been discovered before, but it will stand re-discovery. It may be stated as follows: every preference of a small good to a great, or partial good to a total good, involves the loss of the small or partial good for which the sacrifice is made.

. . . You can’t get second things by putting them first. You get second things only by putting first things first.” —C.S. Lewis [“First and Second Things,” in God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics]

The gifts God gives can truly be enjoyed only when God IS enough.

Bj Erps