I’ve been thinking (a dangerous thing!). If Jesus were making a Christmas list, what things would He include?
First, I think Jesus would ask that we be THANKFUL. He would also remind us that thankfulness is more than an emotion. Being thankful is a developed attitude. Emotions like joy, sadness, and anger come from our brain (anger comes from our lower, reptilian brain). These emotions can be triggered in an instant by what is going on around us.
Being thankful is an attitude, forged over time in our souls. Mature thankfulness doesn’t come from receiving the perfect gift at Christmas or any other time of the year. Thankfulness, developed in the trials and tribulations of life, comes from the heart. It’s a heart where Jesus is being born anew every day.
It’s a heart that is so thankful that it can do nothing less than give back in some way as a response to God’s graciousness and love. Christ wants us to be givers. Christ is the ultimate gift given freely for you and me. We give out of gratefulness for what God has already done for you and me.
Jesus asks that we give. Jesus knows, we all know, that one person cannot fix the world be we can do our part. Mather Teresa once said,
I never look at the masses as my responsibility. I look at the individual. I can love only one person at a time. I can feed only one person at a time. So you begin with one. If I didn’t pick up that one person, I wouldn’t have picked up 42,000. My whole work is only a drop in the ocean. But if I didn’t put the drop in, the ocean would be one drop less.
Christ’s Christmas wish list would certainly include the word “LOVE.” We are called to love no matter what. We love when it seems impossible and we love even those who are unlovable. We forget that love is not a feeling but rather an action verb. “I was a stranger and you took me in. I was in prison and you came to visit me.” We exist to love as God has loved us. If we are to be judged, it will be on how we loved. As William Law said,
All religion is the Spirit of Love, all its gifts and graces are the gifts and graces of love. It has no breath, no life, but the life of love itself.
Listen to Eugene Peterson’s translation of the often quoted 1 Corinthians 13:
If I give everything I won to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but don't love, I've gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I'm bankrupt without love.
Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn't want what it doesn't have. Love doesn't strut. Love doesn't have a swelled head. Love doesn't force itself on others, it isn't always "Me first." It doesn't fly off the handle; it doesn't keep score of the sins of others; it doesn't revel when others grovel. It takes pleasure in the flowering of truth. It puts up with anything and trusts God always.
The longer I live, the more I believe that everything rests in these four letters, LOVE. Jesus asks that we love radically. There is nothing else that really matters. Let’s give Jesus the gifts He wants. Be thankful, give, and love. Think about it!