Giving Jesus Away

First, let me acknowledge that this is a Christmassy article that does not appear in the December issue of the Gleaner. This is because the story itself happened over the holiday, meaning there was no time to submit it to the appropriate issue. And, second, I enjoy annoying people who don’t like Christmas.

It happened in late November when my wife tried to get rid of — actually “give away” is a better term — a nativity set.

Since we possessed two nativities, we felt we could bless someone else with the holy family. Our neighborhood has a residents' page on Facebook, so she posted a picture of the set with the word “FREE.” We didn’t have to wait long until someone posted a message that they would like to receive the nativity. A time for pick up was worked out, and Joseph, Mary and Baby Jesus, along with the stable menagerie, were placed out on our porch in their box. The person never showed. No matter; advertising on the residents' page was free, and so we posted our ad again.

A second taker offered to come and take the nativity home for the holiday, but they too backed out — which started a trend. A third, fourth and fifth individual offered to take Jesus’ family home, but also never followed through.

This bizarre routine morphed into a living metaphor I sermonized off of around the house — much to the delight of my missus. “See, Jesus is presented as a free gift to the world, and yet no one wants to receive Him.” Eye roll. “It’s like, He waits there, hoping that someone will receive Him into their home, and people pass Him by and don’t get the blessing of His presence.” Shakes her head. “You can’t just say you want Jesus; you need to receive Him!”

As you can tell, living with a preacher clearly has benefits.

As we began to abandoned hope of giving Jesus to our neighbors, it so happened a holiday party brought us an unexpected blessing. The members of our church staff came over to our house for Christmas snacks and a classic movie. Upon entering, my administrative assistant noticed the lovely box housing the nativity freezing on the porch.

An excited conversation ensued in which it was revealed that not only was that nativity being given away, my assistant and her family had need of such a nativity. We gladly handed the box to her family and rejoiced that someone had found and received Jesus.

Now, I don’t mean to imply my administrative assistant, or my neighbors for that matter, haven’t received Jesus — but the metaphor still stands. John 1:11–12 states, “He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” Merely claiming you desire Jesus, without a deeply personal invitation of receiving him to be a part of your life, won’t amount to much.

Another lesson that struck me is how often we try to share Jesus with people we may not know and assume those around us have no need of Him. This isn’t an argument for becoming insular but more aware. Ellen White, while discussing the divided interests of people in church in 1892, wrote, “It is a solemn statement that I make to the church that not one in twenty whose names are registered upon the church books are prepared to close their earthly history, and would be as verily without God and without hope in the world as the common sinner” ("Letter 16e"). Ouch.

We don’t need a holiday to reflect on the desire of Jesus to dwell in the house of our hearts. Maybe those closest to us are seeking Jesus while we are out seeking strangers who might not be searching. Christ places people in our family circles and spheres of influence for a reason. Even in Acts 1 Jesus instructs the early church to start at home in Jerusalem before moving out toward the ends of the earth. The best part is the risk is much lower, and so is the stress, in casual spiritual conversations with those we know.

Take a few moments to share Jesus with those close to you. You may be surprised at who has been searching for what you have been trying to give.

February 17, 2017 / Perspective
Share