When my sister, my cousin and I were young, we loved going to Grandpa Dix’s house. He was the type of grandpa that would get on the ground and really play with us and talk to us and love on us. Every single grandkid got that kind of attention, but for a long time, we were the only grandkids, so we had him all to ourselves.
I remember playing a game with grandpa, because we fought hard for his attention, one that involved who loved grandpa the most. We would stretch our arms out as wide as we could signifying that was how much we loved him, “this much”. I always won, I was older and bigger, and probably inherited his really long arms (something the girls later would come to appreciate).
I thought about that game as I was preparing for a sermon recently and even acted it out spreading my hands out in both directions as far as they would go. My main verse came from John 3:16.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16 KJV.
As I slowly drew my hands in to my side, my eyes were drawn to my palms. I reflected on the palms, the very place where 33 years later Jesus would accept one of many punishments for my sin, our sin, all our sin! I felt my throat tighten up and my tears well up as I meditated on His love for me. God loved the world THAT much!
The ultimate demonstration of His love was a gift, a sacrificial gift. Nothing in the world was more important to Him than His Son, except for you… and me! So, He had to sacrifice one for the other and He chose His own son as that gift, that sacrifice.
Here we find ourselves every year celebrating the gift of God’s Son, Jesus, every year. And every year it seems we become so captivated by the busyness of the season, we lose sight of its real meaning.
It is interesting how prone mankind is to corrupt good things. A season meant to celebrate the giving of the greatest gift ever given, has become inverted to be all about receiving. Instead of basking in the comfort of knowing the greatest gift that has even been given and received has already happened, we have shifted our focus over to so many things which actually keep us distracted from it.
God loved us this much! It was His gift we celebrate! It is the birth of His Son that paid the price for that we might not perish! Let’s not allow any amount of family gatherings, meals, presents or decorations distract us this season from the true reason for this season.
Dr. Ronald J. Barnes, Jr.
December 13, 2021