Another Christmas over. Did it feel like a bit of a let-down, a bit of an anti-climax after all the rushing around, the preparations, the excitement? Or maybe you’ve got to the stage of not letting yourself get excited anymore, because you know that Christmas is not all it’s cracked up to be – you’re not a child anymore, you don’t believe in Santa and all that rubbish, for you Christmas is just a chance to have a bit of time off work, put your feet up, gorge on telly and chocolates and booze…
And let’s face it, even when you do get something you really wanted, how long does the excitement last? How long before you feel the same old emptiness, the same old sense of life being just meaningless drudgery? There’s no present that could really make you feel better in the long-term, is there?
But wait, there’s another box still left by the tree. It’s been sitting there for… oh my goodness, it’s been sitting there for ages, gathering dust. Have you never thought of picking it up and opening it?
Oh no, I don’t think it’s for me.
Yes, it is – look, it’s got your name on the gift tag. Go on, open it!
I don’t think it’s really there. It’s just a story, just like Santa or the fairies.
Who told you that? God is real, and he really loves you. He’s given you a present. Go on, open it!
If God is real, why would he give me a present? I’m not good enough. I don’t deserve anything from him.
The present is there anyway. He loves you – not like Santa, not “if you’ve been good”. He knows you’re not good. That’s why he sent you this present.
You’re joking! I get a present because I’m not good?
Yes, because God loves you, and he knows that you just can’t be good – not perfectly good, not all the time. You haven’t got it in you, it’s like you were born with a faulty goodness chip, and the only way to fix it is by getting the perfect goodness chip from God. In this box you will find the hardware you need, and all the instructions to install it. Don’t be daft, open it! What are you waiting for?!!!
What’s in the box?
God’s gift to you is Jesus, whose name in Hebrew means Salvation. Salvation means basically that someone has taken the punishment for all that you’ve done wrong, so that when you die you won’t have to suffer for it. Jesus is the only one who could do this, because he is perfectly good himself. And he did it because he loves you.
So go on, open your present.
Accept what Jesus did for you in dying on the cross to pay for your sins.
Thank him, and say sorry – say it and mean it, because God knows what’s in your heart, he’s not interested in empty words. Say sorry for all the things you know that you’ve done wrong – things you have done, things you have said, things you have thought. Decide to start living his way from now on, with his help – remember, you can’t do it without his help, nobody can.
Now, with the help of Jesus, you can start living a new life – you don’t have to walk around weighed down by your past, and when you do slip up again, all you have to do is go back to him and ask him to forgive you and help you do better next time.
Deciding to live his way means that you will do your best to find out what his way is. This means reading the Bible, joining a church where you can learn more and get helpful advice, and praying – which basically means you talk to him and you listen to him. You don’t have to use fancy words (though you can if you want to!) – you can just talk to Jesus as you would talk to a friend. It may feel strange at first, but he is there, and he has been waiting for a long time for you to get in touch. He’s been watching that box, watching the dust gather on it, watching you struggle through life, and wondering when you would get round to doing the obvious thing.
This was written by someone who is no better than you – just a grateful recipient of God’s mercy!
I had been going to church for years, but that’s not what it’s about. The Bible doesn’t say: go to church and you will be saved from your sins. What the Bible does say is: repent, believe, and be baptised.
You may have been ‘christened’ as a baby. Your parents may have even meant what they said in church when this happened. The Bible still says: repent and believe – not your parents on your behalf, but you, yourself, when you are old enough to make your own mind up.
(Repenting means turning away from our sinful ways and deciding to follow Jesus and live his way. Believing means that we trust that what he did on the cross was for us, and that it is all we need to be saved from our sins.)
Go on, it’s time to open your present. Time to start a new life.