My warmest, heartfelt wishes to you this holiday season!
Have you ever tried to find a Christmas gift for God? Seriously, what do you get someone who has everything?
For years I looked for gifts I could give Him. I was driven to find that perfect gift because He means everything! But the harder I searched, the less satisfied I became in the gifts that I found. Not sure that I would ever find something good enough, I was surprised when I stumbled on a unique gift. One that only I could give.
I had heard many times that Jesus’ coming changed everything. I knew this had to be true. But what exactly had it changed? As I thought about it, I wondered if it had something to do with the accessibility of God to man.
Of course we know that God is present everywhere—but much of the time, leading up to Jesus’ birth, God’s “location” was associated with the Temple or Tabernacle. People saw God as only available to them there. And even there He wasn’t directly available to them. He was “locked up inside” and could only be reached through a priest. This created a perception that God was distant, disinterested, and inaccessible.
With Jesus’ birth, God demonstrated His desire for closeness and displayed His interest in people. God came to us. He became more accessible than ever before. There was no longer need of a priest. As a human, Jesus directly interacted with the people He met.
God could have seen fit to keep this arrangement going, by leaving Jesus on earth for eternity—each generation having access to God through Jesus. But that was never the plan. The plan had always been that Jesus would come and that He would die for us (Romans 5:8). He would die, be raised from the dead, and ascend into heaven.
Does that mean that God is distant again, locked up in a temple, hidden in heaven? No! 2 Corinthians 6:16 says “For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, ‘I will dwell in them and walk among them; And I will be their God, and they shall be My people.’” (NASB).
By what Jesus accomplished on the cross and by His resurrection, we have the ability, through a response of faith, to be cleansed and made livable (1 John 1:7 and Romans 6:8). God the Spirit can come and live in us. We can become God’s new temple. Any distance has been removed.
Even though I’d been a Christian for years, I had interacted with God as though He was sitting up in heaven somewhere. I’d lived under the illusion that there were only certain times and places I could meet Him. I lived that way for years.
No more. I found the unique gift I’d been desperately looking for. A gift only I could give. The gift of myself. Affirming that I’m a temple He dwells in.
The Apostle Paul encourages this idea in Romans 12:1 “So here’s what I want you to do, God helping (empowering) you: Take your everyday, ordinary life - your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life – and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.” (The Message)
How about you? Have you lived like I did, restricting God to a “location”? Not knowing you are His temple? Unaware He is in you and with you everywhere you go?
Like me, you have a unique gift too. One that only you can give. Yourself. Saying yes to God that you’re His temple. What if this Christmas you gave Him that gift?
In Lee’s letter to you last month he shared about the bright and hope-filled future for Exchanged Life Ministries. He’s right! As an organization we’ve stayed true to our founding principles and worked hard to steward the resources we have to carry out our call. This has allowed the ministries’ reach to expand from hundreds per year to thousands. If not for God Himself and individuals like you this would not be possible. Thank you for your prayers and encouragement. As we enter the season of gift giving, would you consider a financial investment in Exchanged Life Ministries? We would be honored and you would be joining us in the grand adventure of lives being forever changed!
I’ll be writing again next month. Between now and then (and anytime), if I can do anything to encourage you, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
Wishing you the best this Thanksgiving and Christmas season. Enjoy living each moment, together with Him.
Mike Roncaglia, Executive Director