The true light which gives light to everyone was coming into the world. John 1: 9
I’m spending a long weekend in southern California, steps away from South Coast Plaza – home of the largest concentration of high end designer brand fashion retail on the west coast with more than $1.5 billion sales annually. That’s an enormous amount of dollars! But then if a Dior scarf is priced at $2,000 (yes, there are three zeros) and a Hermes bag is $12,000, and shoppers have no restraint, then I guess gross sales can add up to more than a billion. In contrast, the annual sales of a brand-name ibuprofen (i.e. “designer pain reliever”) such as Advil, pales in comparison totaling $449 million for all 50 states. (I’m being silly).
Seriously, I am here to neither indulge nor judge. But just like anywhere I’ve been, the sights around me somehow speak to my heart such that past the glitter and glamour, I’m reminded of truths that I’m constantly learning.
What determines value? What defines worth? Is it inherent or earned? Or is it bestowed upon another and by whom? Value is desired by every human being. Each person wants to be affirmed that he or she has worth. Though some deny it, every individual longs to mean much to another.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
God determined our price tag and declared our value when He sent His only Son to save us. When we consider that the Greatest Gift-Giver, gave the Greatest Gift, to the least worthy, Christmas definitely becomes a story that is much bigger than we can celebrate – a radical act of an extraordinary God!
Even in our own limited ways, the value that we ascribe to people and relationships could be reflected in the process of gift-giving. Think of the gifts we give to our own children. Aren’t they more valuable than what we give to other people’s children? Of course! Those who belong to us, naturally mean more to us. We fill them with gifts. We don’t give them away as gifts. To give away what’s most precious, like one’s own son is unthinkable. But that’s exactly what God did. And to whom was this priceless Gift given? What kind of world was waiting for Him? An incredibly broken one…
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53:6
At the time that Christ was born, the world was definitely not what it is today. The practical needs and external demands were different; the pace was for sure slower. But just like today, the world in which Jesus was born was weary because of sin. The lament of souls in bondage and darkness has been heard since the fall of man. Distant from God, the human heart’s yearning for love and meaning has remained unmet in all generations. The world was weary because hope was nowhere to be found. The only Hope who can illumine this darkness, is Jesus Christ.
“Long lay the world in sin and error pining till He appeared and the soul felt its worth; A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.”
I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life. John 8:12
He who invites the weary to come to Him that He may give us rest (Matt 11:28), He is our Priceless Gift who is unmatched by anything we consider good and beautiful. For the believer, there is no other way to live except in awe of Him. It is impossible to truly know Him and not be changed because His grace is not without power. In the light of Christ, we see the futility of focusing on ourselves. We stop measuring our worth for who needs a lofty price tag when the King of the universe already declares us precious in His eyes. Let us not hold back. Let us give our all to Him who did not hold back but gave His all to us. As we do, His grace transforms us into His image bearers so that those around us will see that there is hope for a weary world and His name is Jesus. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:5
Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth; break forth, O mountains, into singing! for the LORD has comforted his people and will have compassion on his afflicted. Isaiah 49:13