Christmas: the celebration of sacrificial generosity
“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.” (2 Cor 8:9)
The grace referred to here is God giving himself away for us. This is the highest form of generosity. Ultimate generosity involves giving oneself, not merely giving something or sharing resources, but becoming poor for the sake of others.
We will soon celebrate the birth of Christ, and we can see all around us how important gifts become during this season. All this concern with gifts, giving and receiving, is at best a faint shadow of celebrating our generous God and at worst, a ritual that can obliterate the essence of our celebration.
The greatest gift of all is Immanuel.
God with us.
God becoming one of us, so we can be restored to God.
In order to actually live amongst us, Jesus had to become just like us: “he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” (Philippians 2:7)
The Maker had to “be made”. His extravagant generosity was not manifested merely through dispossession, but through incarnation: “The word became flesh and made his dwelling among us”.
The most important message of the season is this:
God, in the person of Jesus walked in our midst.
He came to redeem and restore us entirely, embodying God’s concern with our entire existence, rejecting the belief that the material dimension is evil and not important relatively to the spiritual dimension of the world He has made.
By incarnation God not only declared, but demonstrated his love for us, a radical commitment to the dignity and worth of every human being.
The Almighty made himself dependent and obedient!
“He humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:8)
Following Christ’s example, early Christians placed charity and generosity at the centre of their spiritual life as no other religious people did before them. If we truly follow Christ, we are people known by generosity, not only in sharing our resources, but in sharing our very selves, and serving others.
This Advent let us fix our eyes on Christ. The king has come. The king will return.
Let this Christmas be a celebration of extravagant generosity.
- by Adrian Petrice