“A gift. A free gift. No strings attached.”
The above quote was lifted from a short story by Martin Bell called Barrington Bunny. It’s a Christmas story. And an Easter story. The two can’t be separated. Both are about giving. And about sacrifice.
In our culture, we usually give from our surpluses, our extra, when we can afford it. And in our economy today, fewer of us can afford it. But in God’s economy, giving is sacrificial…
Consider Jesus’ discourse with his disciples, after observing the giving habits of people at the temple: Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” (Mark 12: 41-44)
Jesus equates giving to sacrifice. He’s kind of an authority on the subject. He was the greatest unconditional gift. A free gift. No strings attached. The well-known scripture passage tells us just that: For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
So what do we do with this? What of us? The Apostle John made sure that we understood the principle that Jesus modeled, “God loved, so he gave,” transferred to us his disciples, his followers. This is what he wrote to early believers and was captured in the New Testament book of 1 John: This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for one another. (1 John 3:16)
God loved, so he gave the ultimate gift – Jesus. A free gift. No strings attached.
Jesus loved, so he gave the ultimate gift – his life. A free gift. A sacrificial gift. No strings attached.
We are called to love, to give of ourselves – free gifts. Sacrificial gifts. With no strings attached.
This Christmas, ponder on the significance that God loved, so he gave. So simple and yet so profound. This is the true meaning of Christmas. And of Easter.