Growing up, I loved video games, but my parents, well, didn’t. Every year I’d ask for Sega Genesis games (yep, just dated myself), and every year I wouldn’t get a single game. Books? Of course. A set of encyclopedias? Check. But a single, solitary, video game? Nope. After all those years I had almost given up until one year it finally happened: I received exactly the game I wanted! It went right into the machine, and I’m pretty sure I played it for at least twelve consecutive hours. I’d probably be ashamed to know how many total hours I played that game, as it was definitely months of my life. I had received the perfect gift, and I put it to good use. We celebrate Christmas every year to remember that God has given us the perfect gift: Jesus Christ. An important question for us this, and every Christmas is: am I using the perfect gift?
Let’s look at one small part of the Christmas story:
8 In the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” Luke 2:8-14
Here we see this angel coming to the shepherds as they watched over the sheep meant for the Passover sacrifice. When you hear the word angel you may envision cute Precious Moments figurines. Biblical descriptions of angels are, however, far from cute (see just one example here). Angels in the Bible are described as incredibly powerful: they had the power to destroy (just ask the Egyptians) or the power to save (ask the Israelites). That’s why the shepherds were initially frightened: they didn’t know if they were about to be destroyed or saved. The angel informs them that they are about to be saved and with them the entire world. He goes on to explain the perfect Christmas gift: Jesus, the savior of all, has come to earth. The angel makes the impact of this gift clear in verse fourteen: all who believe in God will have peace.
Let’s return to our question: are you using the perfect gift? Amidst all the ups and downs of life are you remembering the gift of salvation and receiving peace from it? Or are you instead locking the gift in a closet and constantly becoming overwhelmed by the world? This Christmas, don’t forget to remember the perfect gift: Jesus died so you may live in a perfect heaven for eternity. May we all start using the perfect gift of Christ’s mercy and salvation every day, enjoying the joy and peace it gives.