The longer you have a gift the less you tend to appreciate it.
Today’s Christmas meditation comes from my 3 and 5-year-old niece and nephew. Those children have a way of teaching me things even when they aren’t trying. It has become a little bit of a Christmas tradition for me to spend the holidays with them over in Texas. When I arrived there this time around for the holidays, we played, caught up and of course, I gave them piggyback rides. Later that evening, I cleaned up and went into their rooms. It was until long till I saw last year’s Christmas presents on the floor. In what could only be described as a pile of forgotten toys, I saw gifts from Christmases past overflowing a cupboard. Toys, trucks, princess dolls and the like, they had it.
It dawned on me that the presents they were able to open afresh on Christmas day would soon end up in this very pile I was looking at. I chuckled and walked away with the idea for this short article in mind. I’m sure we can all relate to this if we have younger children or nieces and nephews. When they open their Christmas presents, their eyes immediately light up with wonder and excitement. Within a year, this glee subsides, and the gifts look stale and are largely abandoned.
Now, as adults, we may not receive toys this Christmas but it’s interesting to consider and assess our approach to the Christmas message and to the Gospel that underpins it all. To consider whether we receive it with glee and excitement or whether it has become a stale and mundane part of a thoughtless tradition. Or perhaps our love for the true Christmas message has been overcome by rampant consumerism and festivities.
In revelations 2;4 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first.
Having commended the church at Ephesus for its doctrinal integrity and perseverance in the face of adversity, Jesus reveals in verse 4 what He found lacking in the Ephesian church. It had abandoned the love that characterized its early history. What remained was devotion to the truth, but not devotion to the Lord. A previous gleeful reception of the truth had grown cold.
Revelation 2:1–7 is the first letter Jesus dictated to John, intended for the church at Ephesus. This congregation is praised for patient endurance and for rightly rejecting false apostles. Despite such an excellent beginning, however, Ephesus had abandoned its first love. They were drifting into coldness and rote religiosity. Jesus instructs the church to remember its early days, repent, and conduct itself as it had done initially. He promises a reward to the victor.
What would a marriage be like if a wife performed all the duties of a wife but without genuine love for her husband? What would a marriage be like if a husband continued to work to provide an income for His family and kept on performing the usual household duties that fall to a husband, but no longer loved his wife? Wouldn’t the marriage be a cold, sterile relationship? On the other hand, duties performed out of love for one’s spouse give meaning and warmth to one’s marriage.
The decline of the church at Ephesus from a deep love for Jesus to a dead orthodoxy prefigures the history of the early Church from Pentecost to the mid-second century. The Ephesian church’s love for Jesus had grown cold, leaving only slavish obedience to rules and doctrines. Jesus’ rebuke needs to be taken seriously today by every church. Sound doctrine and service are important, but they should be grounded in a deep love for Jesus.
Perhaps this Christmas is the time to prayerful ask God to rekindle your love and passion for the truth. To pray and Ezekiel’s prayer
The prayer is that God would make this heart of flesh and embodied experience for you. This does not necessarily mean you should get into the ‘Christmas Spirit but it does mean you should take to consider how you continue to be excited by the greatest gift you ever received.