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For whoever wants to save his own life will destroy it, but whoever destroys his life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News will save it. Indeed, what will it benefit a person if he gains the whole world but forfeits his life? What could a person give in exchange for his life? ~ Mark 8:35-37, CJB


Let’s suppose your spouse purchased for you a pricey Chinese silk jacket with ornate embroidering and gold-inlaid dragons on it. Let’s also suppose you knew nothing about your spouse’s silly prank of wrapping, with a blackened, greasy, brown paper bag, the box in which he or she placed your gift. Additionally, let us suppose that he or she trusted that you would accept the mailed gift as wrapped, because you knew that he or she loves to trick you. 

Now let us imagine how disappointed and maybe even shocked your spouse would be if he or she phoned you, inquiring about the parcel’s arrival, and heard: “A sloppily wrapped package came, but I didn’t open it. Someone undoubtedly was trying to play a joke, so I wrote on the package—PLEASE RETURN TO SENDER—and handed it back to the mail carrier.”  Next, after you learn that the mailed grubbily wrapped package came from your spouse, imagine how disappointed and maybe even shocked you might feel about rejecting your spouse’s precious gift of the pricey Chinese silk jacket, just because you didn’t realize it was another one of your spouse’s pranks.

If we will, let us take the above proposed scenario and apply it to every good and perfect gift that comes from Almighty God, most gifts of which too many of us often refuse and/or often return to the Sender unopened/unaccepted/untried, just because we don’t like how certain gifts are wrapped. Is it impossible for most of us to understand clearly how a loving and giving Father God might feel every time His love-influenced present of a Savior who, because He was wrapped in common rags instead of satin sheets, and placed in a manger instead of a palace, is returned to Him unopened/unaccepted/untried, just because we as the receivers don’t like the way redemption is wrapped? Is it even impossible for most humans to think about how Christ Jesus daily faces the fact that so many people in this world not only think His blood-drenched, pierced, and crucified body—His atoning sacrifice—not only is an unappealing gift but also nothing but an amusing tale?

If we really took the time and put forth the effort, it would not be impossible for most of us to imagine how Father God and Christ Jesus feel when the Lord’s costly, soul-saving purchase usually ends up being exchanged for worldly wealth and its trappings. After all, most of us know that it is the secular world that teaches people about why they neither should wrap their cherished possessions in blackened, greasy, brown paper bags, nor cover them with beaten beyond recognition, bloodstained wrappings. For sure, worldly riches’ very “attractive” wrappings are why too many people are deceived about wealth’s value, and why too many people become more covetous (greedy) as they pursue money and possessions, all while believing that anything that is free, shabbily wrapped, and/or badly beaten neither can be profitable nor valuable.

On the other hand, it is Christ Jesus who maintains that every person’s soul is more valuable than the whole world’s wealth, and that every person will lose EVERYTHING he or she gains if he or she refuses to focus on the soul and its needs. For this reason, He expects each person to receive and cherish with loving faith the ONLY gift that saves souls: The placed in a manger Savior who was wrapped in common rags. This Savior was and still is the world’s most precious gift, which God the Father wrapped in the plainest of wrappings. Furthermore, it is this placed in a manger Savior who grew up to become the beaten beyond recognition, whipped, pierced, and crucified Jesus the Christ—the Greatest Gift God freely gave to mankind!  AMEN.

 MERRY CHRISTMAS and HAPPY NEW YEAR!

 

~ from Faith and Wisdom: A Rhema Word in a Dry and Thirsty Land (2006); edited


The cartoon used in this blog posting is from Joyful ‘toons.