Tuesday, December 01, 2009

GIFTS & GIVERS: Wrapping the Unwrappable

THE SECOND SUNDAY OF ADVENT is approaching and for us at Felton Bible Church it will be a full day of celebration and fellowship as we remember the One who came as the Prince of Peace, as we remember His great gift to us as we share together in Holy Communion, and as we gather around the tables to enjoy another scrumptious FirstSunday Fellowship Meal.

Last week's message "What are You Getting for Christmas?" focused upon the reality that we have been given much so that we could give much. (Genesis 18:18; Galatians 3:8; 1 John 4;10; 1 John 4:19) And in particular we focused upon Jesus being the Light of the world (John 3:19-21; John 8:12) and our call to live in that light (Ephesians 5:8-11) and to be a light (Matthew 5:14-16). This week we shall focus upon the gift of God's peace that comes to us in and through the Person of Jesus Christ, and what it means to not only get that gift, but in turn to give that gift as well.

So, the question before us today is, "If we have received God's gift of peace, how then can we give it away?" As I pondered this question I realized that we are talking about "incarnational-giving." That is giving in the very same way (limited as we may be) as God gave to us through the Son, Jesus the Christ.

In the Incarnation, God was wrapping the unwrappable. (a new word, I believe. ;o)) God was taking Himself, and wrapping Himself in human flesh (John 1:1-5; John 1:14; Philippians 2:5-11). When we speak of incarnational-giving, we are talking about in some form giving ourselves as gifts to another.

If we are talking abut giving the gift of peace, how can we wrap that gift, which is in many ways unwrappable? What are the ways in which we can give peace that goes beyond just saying, "Peace be with you"? I am working through the possible ways that can be done, and I know that this gift will at the least demand presence (there's the Incarnation again), and meeting of real needs (there it is again), and it will most like be costly, at least in the sense of time (I suppose we could read that as "sacrificial" another aspect of the Incarnation). Beginning to get the picture?

I would love to hear some of your ideas about how we could wrap the unwrappable in regards to God's gift of peace. I am sure the Scriptures would help us in that matter. There are those words about God's peace in the Apostle Paul's letter to the Philippians (Philippians 4:4-9), which might give us a good starting point, and to that I would had our Advent text for this coming week which includes God's Word through the Prophet Isaiah,
He tends His flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart; He gently leads those who have young. (Isaiah 40:11)
So, as you seek the gifts to give this Advent be sure to add to your list God's gift of peace. I am sure you know at least one person who needs that gift.

Shalom.

5 comments:

Brandon K. Baker said...

"In the Incarnation, God was wrapping the unwrappable... God was taking Himself, and wrapping Himself in human flesh (John 1:1-5; John 1:14; Philippians 2:5-11). When we speak of incarnational-giving, we are talking about in some form giving ourselves as gifts to another."

Wonderful insight. That is perhaps one of the pivotal questions of the Advent season: how do we give incarnational gifts? Moreso, how do we give ourselves incarnationally?

You noted the preeminence of presence in the incarnational gift. Perhaps in seeking to give the gift of God's peace, we need to recognize where and when we have "disturbed the peace" whether intentionally or unintentionally. Being present with others often means being present with ourselves first; truly examining our lives for what they are rather than what we have built them up to be. It is only through first being honest and present with myself and my shortcomings that I can move toward being honest and present with someone from whom I have "disturbed God's peace."

Great post Randy!

Pastor Randy said...

Brandon,

I like your idea of seeking where we have "disturbed the peace."

I was trying to have ideas for the church this Sunday that they could actually "do," and your comment is a good one.

This idea goes hand-in-hand with Jesus telling us to forgive others as we have been forgiven, and also as we forgive other can know forgiveness (peace).

Thanks for your thoughts.

Anonymous said...

I really like that too "wrapping the unwrappable" and how do we give incarnational gifts...something that I always think about at Christmas is...

Instead of the traditional Christmas baskets filled with varieties of fruit covered with shrink wrap tied up with a pretty bow, wouldn’t it be nice if we could give everyone a basket filled with the fruit of the spirit?

Realistically, we can’t show up at their door with a tangible basket filled with the fruit of the spirit, but we can take the message to them about the ultimate Christmas gift God is patiently waiting for them to accept.

Problem is finding people who can see how valuable this “invisible” gift of the Holy Spirit is or people who realize how desperately they need this gift. How heartbreaking it is for the average Christian to realize that most people not only don’t want it, they dread the possibility of even getting into a discussion about Jesus Christ.

We know that we are already stereotyped and not in a good way. If we knocked on a neighbors door, most people would just immediately write us off as an obnoxious proselytizing pain in the neck that has shown up at their door, usually at a very inconvenient time just so we can convert them to Christianity. Not only will they not be excited about the ultimate Christmas gift (Christ himself), but they will almost certainly simply resent our intrusion.

Wouldn’t it be nice if there really was a “How To” book that would give Christians a foolproof way to share the good news (gospel) effectively? Oh, wait. There are numerous books written on the topic on the shelves of most Bible bookstores and most Christians have purchased such books, read them, and tried those methods unsuccessfully.

The problem is each person we would share the gospel with is an individual with different personalities, past experiences and conditioning. For many people, we are probably better off avoiding words or phrases that sound like Christian clichés, but then for other people, the very words or phrases that sound clichéd might be the very words they need to hear. Everyone is different. Something that might produce fear or stubborn resistance in one person might have exactly the opposite effect on someone else.

How then do we know how to share the gospel so that God can use us to deliver this message about the greatest gift of all? Perhaps we can simply offer someone our friendship. We can listen and not offer any suggestions or advice or try to fix their problems (or them), but simply listen empathetically until we get to know that person well enough to know how to lead them into the realization that the gift they need the most, is Christ himself.

Perhaps it will take time. Maybe we won’t make the “Christian that got the most people saved” list. Maybe we will simply get the satisfaction of knowing that God used us to lead one or two little lambs into the kingdom. Maybe they won’t even choose to go to our particular church and we won’t get any recognition at all.

And certainly in order to give this gift of Jesus Christ, we must first of all accept it ourselves and accept more and more of him, let him search our hearts and remove any ego motives.

Draw closer to him and let him lead us and guide us, show us who to share the goods news with, how to share it, when to listen, when to speak and what to say when we do speak. For it is the Holy Spirit that draws people into the kingdom, not us.

Without him, we can do nothing but truly as Brandon pointed out, the more fruit of the spirit we have (peace in this case), the more we can give away.

gentledove (aka bloghog) I did it again!

Pastor Randy said...

gentledove,

You are always welcome to hog my blog! ;o) Your words are good and true.

I wonder what a basket of the fruit of the Spirit might look like? There are some good things to ponder on that...hopefully which will yield a practical outcome.

Peace!

Ron Powers said...

gentedove,

Very truthful and encouraging words.
This blog has enlightened my day. Thanks guys, and anonymous.