You ever have those gifts you get that you open up Christmas Day and the first thing you think is, “Clearance Aisle?” At that moment you realize that the person didn’t put in any thought whatsoever into buying you that present and what do you do with it? You regift it? You return it? You throw it away? You put it in a closet somewhere never to be seen again until you move or die. Then there’s those gifts you get from someone who goes to the tree and grabs the gift themselves or pulls it out from their bedroom personally to make sure it’s safe and that it makes its way straight to your hands. You open it and the giver has their eyes fixed on you awaiting your grateful reaction with eager anticipation. You open the gift and you cherish it, you’re overwhelmed by the thoughtfulness, the time, money, energy, and love they put into the gift. The gift builds a stronger love between you, not because of the gift itself, but the love shared through the gift. Those are the gifts we keep, the gifts we continually use, save, and cherish for years to come.
Often we treat God’s gift of Himself as a half hearted gift bought on the clearance aisle and replace it with the things we provide for ourselves. We don’t cherish the gift nor the giver like He desired when He gave His most precious gift. We treat His gift with disdain and contempt. Bonhoeffer calls this “cheap grace.” This isn’t a legalistic thing that we have to change the things we DO necessarily in and of themselves. Because I can also tell the gift I put a lot of thought into that are not received with the love and gracefulness that I desired but the person acted so grateful but you can tell when they’re not really grateful for your gift because it’s not something they think they wanted or they view your gift as insignificant or meaningless to them. Do we treat God’s gift like this? Do we pretend to be grateful because we don’t want to offend God but we really see His gift as lesser in light of what we can do for ourselves? Are we so out of touch with the heart of God that we are not drawn close to Him and pure and passionate intimacy is built between us?
How do we view this with hope and not simply guilt and feeling bad? God desires us. He loves us and invites us into intimacy with Him to cherish the gift and – most importantly – the giver, so that we He reminds us of the gift, we are drawn into intimacy with the giver. “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” Luke 2:10