Getting What I Want at Christmas

 

Some of the saddest and most terrible places in The Bible are when God gives people what they want.

God allows Adam and Eve to choose what they want:  to trust in God or to strive for something else.  We know the results of their choice.  In Noah’s time, everyone was wise in their own eyes and did whatever they pleased.  This sin-spiral led to the flood of the world.  When God rescued the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt, was their personal tour guide to the Promised Land and always provided “just enough, just in time” for their needs….that wasn’t enough for them.  They complained and desired to see a more expanded menu, beyond miraculous water flowing from a rock and bread from heaven every day.  Like me at a barbecue, they wanted meat.  So God gave it to them and they consumed, and consumed, and consumed….until they were sick.  We’ve never been good at telling ourselves “no,” so God or the authorities He has put in place do this for us.

When God establishes the Israelites in their own country, they wanted a King.  Peer pressure from all the other nations was kicking in.  “All the other nations have kings to go before them in battle, God, we want one too!”  It’s a good thing that we have evolved so much and don’t go clamoring after things just because others around us have them, right? 🙂 Just like in Eden, having God to directly care for and lead them wasn’t enough, so he gave them a king.  The line of kings in Israel (aside from a few solid guys) was an utter disaster.  Greed, idolatry, and violence marked their reigns.  But hey…that’s what the people wanted.

Throughout the books of the prophets, God scolds the “false prophets” of Israel.  Their primary sin was telling people whatever they wanted to hear.  Don’t make waves.  Emphasize God’s eternal love and compassion, but ignore His call to holy living and compassionate justice for the outcasts of our world.  Declare that we are “God’s people”, yet minimize God’s repeatedly stated desire to draw the entire world back to Himself.  Gotta give the people what they want, right?

Some of the greatest passages in The Bible deal with God providing a “gift” wrapped in packaging that is unexpected, but of infinite worth.

One infant Israelite sailing down a river in a basket who would be the leader of a nation (Moses).  A shepherd boy who would become king (David).  A prostitute (Rahab) who would go on to raise one of the greatest gentlemen in Scripture (Boaz) and factor into the genealogy of Jesus.  A teenage girl who would help save her entire race from genocide (Esther).  Another teenager who would be chosen to bear the Son of God.  A Savior, born in a stable and raised as a carpenter’s son.

God seems to be sending a message throughout time and the Scriptures:  “If you want what I have to give you, you’ll never lack what you need.  If you want your own way of doing things, those paths will lead to dead ends.”

As individuals, families, and as a church we should ask ourselves some questions at Christmastime:

What if giving people what they want (especially our children) may be more damaging to them than telling them “no”?  What if the way that I give presents matters to God as much as the carols that I sing?  How would I handle not getting what I want this Christmas?  What if by saying “no”, I have a chance to say “yes” to something much more meaningful and life-giving?

May this Christmas be a blessing to you and your loved ones.

May you embrace the ultimate gift of Jesus Christ.

And may you grow more at peace with not getting what you want so that you may be overjoyed by what God has for you instead.

Blessings,

Pastor Josh

Published in: on December 22, 2010 at 4:47 PM  Leave a Comment  
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