THE GIFT OF WORSHIP
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.
When we think of Christmas, and the birth of Christ, we often think of the pageants depicting the story of Joseph and Mary as they arrived in Bethlehem looking for a place to rest. We think of Mary, beholding her newborn son in a lowly manger. We think of the angels appearing before the shepherds announcing the arrival of the new King, or the wise men travelling a great distance as they followed the star to seek the One. The world rejoiced at the promise fulfilled – the Messiah had come. The hearts of the people rejoiced that their Deliverer was here.
As I contemplate these thoughts, I too, am filled with joy. But I sometimes wonder about God the Father. What was on His heart as He looked down from Heaven? As He watched His sweet little boy lying in the manger, innocent, helpless and oh so vulnerable, was He thinking about the future day his sweet baby boy would be hung on the cross? Was His heart aching for His cherished child, knowing all that He would suffer?
And what about the Lord Jesus, Himself, as He left the glory of Heaven to come to earth in human form, when He said good-bye to His Father, what thoughts might have been in His heart? He was leaving His Heavenly home to go to a place that would treat Him with great cruelty and disdain and where He would suffer terrible pain and abuse.
I remember when my first son was born. At the time I lived in Toronto – such a large metropolis, such a busy and fast paced city. The day after he was born I was resting, looking through my hospital window. It was the first glorious day of sunshine and warm weather in May, the perfect day for his new life to begin. However, as I looked out at the busy highway of rush hour traffic, and the hustle and bustle of the city, I started to contemplate the world that I had brought my child into. I realized that he had come into a fallen world, and that life could be cruel, and I knew that I would not be able to protect him from all of life’s blows. The thought of this struck my heart as I looked down at his tiny face, and I began to cry.
How much must our Father love us to send His Son, His one and only Son, to such a place knowing all that would take place? How much must He love us to be willing to watch His own child born into a fallen and cruel world to suffer, and hang on a cross? Oh the depth of love that would make such a sacrifice. How His heart must have ached. As a parent, I cannot fathom how difficult that would have been.
As I reflect on the verse above, the greatest gift I can give to Him is to love Him with all my heart, soul, body, and strength. In doing so, I present myself to Him as a living sacrifice. In truth, it is no sacrifice at all. It is my deepest desire to bestow on Him the love and honour He is due. It is my act of worship for who He is, and all that He has done.
Yes, I rejoice this season because our Saviour has come. I am filled with joy at the knowledge that because He came we can belong to such an incredible family, the family of God. But I also reflect on the cost to the Father and the Son in the gift of Christmas, and I am filled to overflowing with gratitude, love and joy that such a gift was given – the greatest gift of all.