Christmas Advent, Faith, Spiritual Encouragement
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25 Gifts – Why Jesus? {Advent 2014, Day 9}

Take your everyday, ordinary life--your

A dead giveaway that Santa’s not the one filling the stockings at Christmas at our house, is that there are practical items stuffed in there with silly toys and gift cards and candy.

Like socks. And shampoo. And body wash. Manicure sets and deodorant.

Useful things that a mom usually buys for her kids but makes them a gift at Christmastime.

Yes, I’m the stocking stuffer around here.

I know that new socks and new shampoo aren’t glamorous gifts, but they are the ones that actually get used.

Because everything gets used up, worn out or broken around here. You know what I mean?

And that’s the state of this world. Everything gets used up, worn out and broken. One glance at my facebook feed or five minutes of listening to the news or a long look in the mirror will confirm this.

I met a lady, near my age that has spent two decades working in a job she does well but brings her no joy. Seriously, no joy. A paycheck, a title, some sick pay and insurance and a bit of a retirement, but no joy. She is worn out.

I spoke with someone dear to me recently who carries around within her a broken heart. Usually, she holds it together and puts on a brave face, but when she cracks a bit, she spills and the crying can’t come in tears alone, but wracking sobs. She is broken.

A neighbor of mine was beautiful as a china doll and scraped hollow by this world. She consumed prescription drugs to fill the void, but they rotted rancid in her soul. She gave up everything for one more hit, finally ending the insanity by hanging in a prison cell. She was used up.

Yet all along, there is this gift that Jesus gave us, this gift of new.

In his final hours, we can read in the gospels that Jesus was worn out (those lashings from the Roman guard!), broken (and bleeding streaks from the crown of thorns brutally shoved on his head), and used up (giving up his final, burning breath as he hung, suffocating, on that cross). He faced the disgrace of this death and transformed the cross into an object of love, a thing in which we can glory.

Because: new.

This broken, beat up, worn out, used up world needed new. So Jesus, “being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage, rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” {Philippians 2:6-11}

Are we so conditioned by the world that we can see and touch? We hang our hopes on new things. But new stuff wears out.

We’re so used to pinning our dreams on a new job, a new president, a new feminist movement, but we’re always a little let down, aren’t we? Someone is always left behind, disenfranchised, exploited or dismissed in our quest for new ideals.

There is one new that works, that renews all the time, that connects us to the divine thoughts of God himself. That is the new life birthed in us at the moment we say yes to Jesus. When we finally throw off our worn out ideas and stop fashioning ourselves after the broken systems, philosophies and pedagogies of this world, we can open-handedly receive the new ideas and experience the renewing of our minds promised in Scripture. It sounds high-falutin’ ; it sounds crazy, actually.

And although I just received a stack of boxes from UPS containing all kinds of new surprises for my family for Christmas, what I want to give them every day of the year is permission and encouragement to get new ideas.

Paul wrote this in Romans,

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. {Romans 12:2 NIV}

I love how the passage above was paraphrased in The Message:

“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.

Don’t become so well-adjusted to you r culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”

It’s okay to feel uncomfortable in this world, to feel the wearing out of our spirits and hold the pieces of a broken heart and cry out for new.

We were made for more. Jesus gave us more.

He gives us the opportunity every day to embrace more fully the renewal provided through salvation. Because salvation isn’t just about going to heaven when we die. No, it’s immeasurably more. It’s mental metamorphosis, its total transformation: it’s becoming the best, fullest, spilling over, mature versions of ourselves here!

If we claim the name and salvation of Jesus Christ, lets stop it with the moaning about the injustices of this world and it’s inherent diseased and cancerous patterns. Let’s jump off the bandwagons and throw ourselves at the foot of the cross, the only source of real glory. Let’s take our everyday lives and place them before God as an offering.

It’s the one gift God wants at Christmas. And the exchange? He gives us unmerited, unlimited, marvelous newness.

Let’s open new. Let’s be renewed. Let’s tear into new ideas and new faith and new, fresh hope. Let’s litter the floor with the wrappings of this world and open the renewing life Jesus offers us.

It is after all Christmas. And isn’t Jesus a practical gift-giver? I just love his presents!

///

Friends,

Let’s, this Christmas and all through 2015 put off our old selves fashioned after the pattern of this world and be made new in the attitude of our minds; to put on the new selves, created to be like God, set apart and complete and alive.

But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. {Galatians 6:14}

That, however, is not the way of life you learned when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. {Ephesians 4:20-24}

Bless you!

Alyssa

Take your everyday, ordinary life

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