What do you want for Christmas? As small children sitting on Santa’s lap, we quickly learned to rattle off a long list of our desires—mostly things we’ve seen in ads on TV. Now that we’re older, we still have our lists, posted online at the request of family members trying to assemble a Christmas shopping list.
As the primary gift shopper in our household, I was scanning these lists when the thought occurred to me… what does Jesus want for Christmas? After all, it’s his birthday!
I was reminded of a passage I read recently—found in both Matthew 16:23 and Mark 8:33—where Jesus tells Peter “Get behind me, Satan! … You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” I wondered, what are the concerns of God? What could He, the owner of the cattle on a thousand hills (not to mention the rest of creation) possibly lack? Or, if you’re not the practical gift type, what could we give Him to make Him happier?
When Jesus was asked a similar question, He replied that God wants us to love him with all we are and to love one another as he has loved us. Difficult, but simple… until we start to ask what specifically he is talking about. Today and for the next few posts, I want to share what I believe are some things that God has on his Christmas list.
God wants us to love him because he created us to do so. By loving him, we’ll be happier and more fulfilled—because he is the ultimate source of all joy. And he wants us to be filled with his joy because he love us. It’s plain that he loves us. Look at all the trouble he went though—all the anguish he suffered—to make it possible for us to be with him.
So, how do we love God?
Time and Attention
Perhaps the very best Christmas present we can give God is to spend time just being with him. You don’t have to sit or kneel or bow your head and close you eyes. Just sit down over a cup of tea or whatever, and pour out your heart. If nothing seems particularly urgent at the moment, tell God how much you appreciate being able to come to him, and thank him for all he’s done for you. Thanksgiving Day is over, but a heart of gratitude should last all year.
Remember, you don’t have to do all the talking. (How much fun would a date with your sweetie be if you gabbed on and on and never let them get a word in edgewise?) Take time to listen. What does God have on his heart? What would he want to share with you? God tells us that we are his friends, and he shares with us what he is doing:
No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you. (John 15:15)
Unfortunately, I find that listening is a lot harder than talking. It’s true with my friends, and it’s true with God. I confess that I keep getting distracted by the things that I want to say, rather than focusing on them. With God, I tend fall asleep—another good reason not to close my eyes when praying! When I’m struggling to listen to God, but my mind is bouncing around from my to-do list to what to get Grandpa for Christmas to the article I read last night, I find that writing things down helps keep me focused. At least it keeps me awake.
Time and attention is difficult to manage during this busiest time of the year. However, spending “quality time” with God will help us put the rest of our holiday frenzy into perspective. Like the rest of the gifts I’ll be listing, this is a gift that gives twice. We’re blessing ourselves while we’re blessing God.
I’ll propose more ways to love God next week…