Saturday, November 21, 2009

Price vs. Value

It's odd how some things can cost little and yet have great value and other things can be very expensive and mean little to us. I guess it's because the price is set by the seller and the value is set by the receiver. Perhaps I find myself dwelling on these things now because it's the time of year when we are all looking for great deals at the stores and the stores are gearing up for the really big sales on "Black Friday" and leading all the way up to Christmas.

Each December, the Ozarks Chapter of the American Christian Writer's Association has a Christmas/Winter reading meeting. Our regular monthly meeting becomes a time for writers to share a Christmas or winter themed story/poem/prose that they have written. I didn't participate in last years reading (although I did the monthly devotion using this story) but have decided to write something this year. Of course that means having to write something for Christmas...

As a procrastinator of great reputation, it goes against my nature to begin this writing project so early--the meeting isn't for another three weeks. But I have this idea that is already rolling around in my head (and there is lots of room up there for things to roll around!). I wish that I could just say it rather than having to write it down--kind of like the way I preach. Once I've read the Scripture, studied the background, organized the thoughts in my head and said it to myself over and over, I generally preach from the overflow of preparation and trust in the Holy Spirit's guidance, using few (if any) notes. It's just like telling a story.

So I still have to put this together in order to get it onto paper, but here are my thoughts on the price of the Greatest Christmas Gift verses the value of the Gift:

In my heart, I know that all of Christendom celebrates the birth of the Christ-child on December 25th, hence the name Christmas. I know that we also think of this Child as God's great Gift to mankind. Today we know that this Jesus, born in Bethlehem, will one day become the sacrificial lamb and shed His blood on our behalf. At Easter we will think of the suffering and sacrifice that the man-Jesus endures in our place. Somehow we always miss the sacrifice that the God-Jesus made at His birth. Maybe it's because we see it with the eyes of the receiver of the Gift. Let's try, for a moment, to see the Gift through the eyes of the Giver; to recognize the cost of this great Gift. I think that we may find the sacrifice at the birth of Jesus was a far more costly gift than the sacrifice at the Cross. Of course, they both go together. One without the other is of no value to us.

In his letter to the Philippians, Paul wrote that Jesus, having the nature of God, set that aside and took on the nature of man.

Think about that for a moment. He lowered Himself from the High Throne of God to dwell with humans--as a human! He set aside the characteristics of God and took on the characteristics of man. In a moment He went from being Omnipresent to being confined to the finite boundaries of the human body. The once Omniscient God would have to learn as a child learns. And the All Powerful, Omnipotent God of the Universe would become utterly powerless. He would experience hunger and be unable to feed himself. If he wanted fed, he would have to cry. If he was cold, he would have to cry. When he soiled himself and needed to be changed, he would have to cry. (It's kind of hard to think of Jesus with a dirty diaper...I wonder if it stunk?) If he just wanted to be held by his mom...God would have to cry.

It boggles my mind.

I know that the thirty plus years that Jesus spent as a human are nothing in all of eternity, but to Jesus the man--it had to have been thirty long years.

If we can tell how much a person cares by the gift they give--the thought that goes into it, the cost to the giver, the time and preparation, the presentation--then we can know that God loves us. Paul writes that "...God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

I think that we could also say that God demonstrates His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ became one of us. He was perfect and without sin but became sin for us. He took our punishment--our death-- so we can live.

There is never a question about the cost of a gift. Oh you may be able to find a bargain or haggle with the seller over the price but once the gift has been purchased, the cost doesn't change. that's a different story. The value of a gift is determined by the one receiving the gift. How much do you value the Gift of Christmas? Will you set it aside and not give it a second thought? Will you want to take it out and show it off? Will you be willing to share it with others? Would you be willing to just tell somebody of the wonderful Gift that you've been given?

I know that it's bad form to inquire of the cost of a gift. So let me just tell you--your gift was expensive. What you do with it; how you value it, is up to you.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Merry Christmas,

John <><

1 comment:

Mike said...

Good little short sermon. Are you going to or did you preach this?