It’s pretty normal to ask someone, “What did you get for Christmas?”
It’s pretty not-normal to ask, “What did you give for Christmas?”
Which question reveals the truer spirit of Christ? Which reveals the more accurate manifestation of modern Yuletide, um, observance?
Yes, I know, easy questions. Everybody knows Christmas is about giving. Even the most politically intransigent, civic-religious separationists probably buy a gift for someone, or charitably give of their time or treasure in the spirit of the season. This cultural and commercial “Winter Break” spectacle that Shall Not Be Named in public schools or courthouses – convoluted mess of intentions and theology that it is – brings out the giving nature God most assuredly put in our hearts. All our hearts, I think.
Contrast that with the gaudy and seeming dehumanizing tribulation of commando shopping forays on Thanksgiving Evening or Black Friday or whenever prices are low, crowds are thick, desired objects are in limited supply and the Christmas clock is ticking toward zero-hour when Santa’s bounty is presented to anticipating recipients. We’re even willing to fight to give the best gifts.
Still, isn’t it odd that in this “season of giving,” for some reason, what we “get” is fair public information, but what we give is reverentially and almost universally respected as one’s own private affair? A boast about a gift we received is OK. Boasts about gifts we give are unseemly and coarse. .
There is a theological lesson about the incarnation of Jesus Christ in all this talk of giving and getting, and a practical application, too.
Christmas is a celebration of God’s great gift to mankind: the humanity of His son Jesus. It is in Jesus, the only perfect human, that we find our true humanity. That’s important because God created humanity in His own image; we fell from that image in sin but in Jesus never truly fell from His grace or His love. Jesus Christ, incarnate son, the Light of the World, came with a message: in My humanity your sins are forgiven, your humanity is restored, and you are adopted into the Kingdom of heaven.
Our faith in that message saves us from eternal death; it is the only thing that does. No gift we can give, outside of selflessly loving others, comes close to measuring up to God restoring our humanity through the human person of Jesus Christ.
Salvation is very, very personal, as personal as it gets, because Jesus is right there between you and God. You can get salvation, but you can’t give it.
But if you get it, believe it. And don’t keep it a secret.
Walters (email@example.com) opines that “happy” is about getting, but “joy” is about giving.