“Christmas is about exchanges – of counting costs and sacrifices – yet seeing them as of worth.”
I penned down these thoughts in my bunk on what would be my first in-camp training (ICT) since I finished National Service. As with most men, we dread ICT: The return of regimentation, outfield exercises and what not. What compounded this sense of dread were the personal costs and sacrifices incurred for me to be there.
This was my first point of pain: Because of ICT, the Church camp I’d never missed in all my Christian life was “exchanged” with army camp. I also couldn’t participate in my campus ministry’s annual ministry training – instead, here I was having military training.
To make matters worse, ICT took place over Christmas. So despite the holiday season when others were celebrating with friends, catch-up-over-coffee was “exchanged” with catch-up-over-combat-rations.
In the midst of all this, as I griped and sulked to myself, it dawned on me how Christmas is likewise all about exchange – the divine exchange that cost God everything when He sacrificed His only Son for our eternal life.
WORTHY COSTS AND SACRIFICES
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.” (Isaiah 9:2)
The birth of the Great Light was one laden with costs and sacrifices.
It almost cost Joseph and Mary their marriage, if not for God’s divine intervention (Matthew 1:18-25). It cost the Three Wise Men their time and wealth – travelling days and bringing gold, frankincense, and myrrh (Matthew 2: 9-11). It cost hundreds of baby boys their lives when a jealous King Herod tried to eradicate the newborn King (Matthew 2:16-18).
It cost Heaven its Prince of Peace, and God His only begotten Son, who would one day sacrifice His life and die for the sins of all humanity.
I particularly like how Jon Bloom puts it: “For the spared Child of Bethlehem was given life that he might die a far more brutal, horrific death — one that would purchase the eternal redemption of Bethlehem’s lost boys and bring eternal consolation to any bereaved parent willing to receive it.”
THE DAILY DIVINE EXCHANGE
When the Wise Men and shepherds offered their worship and gifts to Jesus, it was much more than a physical, external offering. In that manger, an exchange of kingship took place. In the bending of knees and bowing of heads, lordship of self was laid down; the King of Heaven and earth was exalted above all.
It is only when we cast our crowns before the throne (Revelations 4:10-11) that we can truly acknowledge Jesus as the Saviour King over our lives. Our declaration of Jesus as Lord will cost us the throne seat of our lives – our kingship exchanged for His.
In the bending of knees and bowing of heads, lordship of self was laid down; the King of Heaven and earth was exalted above all.
But this exchange is a worthwhile one, for this King whom we acknowledge and worship similarly made an exchange for us. On Christmas, the promise of the Messiah became flesh when Jesus exchanged the comforts of Heaven to dwell among Man on earth (John 1:14). And from that Christmas on, He stuck to the Will of the Father all the way to Calvary, where He exchanged His life for ours.
How precious this is – Jesus counting the cost and deeming us worthy of His death if it meant a restoration of kinship with God. What a beautiful exchange that inspires my own.
JOY TO THE WORLD, THE LORD HAS COME
No one enjoys counting costs and making seemingly unfair sacrifices and exchanges. But because of what Jesus has done for us through His birth, death and resurrected life, we celebrate Christmas with a posture of thankfulness, knowing that through Him we’ve already received the greatest gift of incomparable worth.
We celebrate Christmas recognising we are no longer the kings over our lives, and that only by exchanging our kingship with Christ can we truly live. We rejoice like the Wise Men and shepherds on that first Christmas Day, for joy has indeed entered the world (Matthew 2:10-11, Luke 2:10-20). Salvation is here!
You see, Christmas happened for you and me. And when we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour – our King – the joy of Christmas dwells every day in our hearts.
This is a submission from a participant of our Christmas Gift Exchange. From now till the end of December 2017, we are giving away a limited edition Thir.st Tumbler in exchange for every story on the Christmas themes of love, joy, peace, hope and giving. Click here to find out more.