Christmas 2015: The Present of Presence

"And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple. Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms. And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. And leaping up he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God."
-Acts 3:2-8 (ESV)

While I can appreciate the gift giving that happens around this time each year, I’ve personally long preferred presence to presents. The gift of spending time with others holds immeasurable value to me, more than I suspect most people realize. Throw in some good conversation, and I am more than content.

Unfortunately, time with others seems a rare commodity these days. We may be separated by distance or, more likely, whichever life priority has popped up at the moment. Some reading this I may never have met at all. And while I wish presence were an easier gift to give, or perhaps a more desired one to receive, human limitation dictates otherwise.

That being true, I’m very thankful that God Himself is not only generous, but His gifts have everything to do with presence.

The man in the story above was given several gifts he didn’t expect due to the presence of two Christians. He probably would have settled for some loose change. Instead, He’s given the gift of healing (a gift I would love for several friends, and wouldn’t even mind receiving myself). And yet, even better, He’s given the very power and presence of Jesus Himself through these men. He can now know the Lord and have his relationship with God restored because of Jesus.

Why “because of Him?” Out of His love and generosity, God the Father gave us the gift of His Son, Jesus—also given the title Immanuel, or “God with us.” While we focus on this aspect of God’s generosity at Christmas, there’s so much more to the story. God came to be with us for many reasons, ironically including the fact that we all abandon Him in pursuit of our own desires, moving away from Him and each other on a path which ultimately leads only to total isolation and death. Because of our natural trajectory, Jesus came and gave His own life so human relationships with God could be restored. He then returned to life, and to His throne in Heaven. And since He did this, Jesus now gives anyone who truly trusts Him as Lord the presence of His Holy Spirit, along with adoption into God’s own family forever. He never stops giving us presence.

I can’t be present with everyone during the holidays, or even give everyone gifts, fantastic or otherwise. Still, what I do have I give to you in this little letter. Because of the presence of Jesus in my life, I want you to know Him too. I invite you to think on who Jesus is and all He gives, and I am always excited to spend time with you by whatever means available (which may include a comment on this post or a Twitter chat) to talk about Him, whether you’ve known the Lord for years or have never heard this before. I’ll take that good conversation anytime. ;-)

Praying you’ll know Jesus’ true presence this Christmas season.

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