At a winter retreat in northern New England, one of the men asked the question, “What was your favorite Christmas gift ever?”
One athletic man seemed eager to answer. “That’s easy,” he said, glancing at his friend next to him. “A few years back, I finished college thinking I was a sure bet to play professional football. When it didn’t happen, I was angry. Bitterness ate at me, and I shared that bitterness with anyone who tried to help me.”
“On the second Christmas—and second season without football—I went to a Christmas play at this guy’s church,” he said, gesturing toward his friend. “Not because I wanted Jesus, but just to see my niece in her Christmas pageant. It’s hard to describe what happened because it sounds silly, but right in the middle of that kids’ play, I felt like I needed to be with those shepherds and angels meeting Jesus. When that crowd finished singing ‘Silent Night,’ I just sat there weeping.
“I got my best Christmas present ever that very night,” he said, again pointing to his friend, “when this guy sent his family home without him so he could tell me how to meet Jesus.”
It was then that his friend piped up: “And that, guys, was my best Christmas present ever.”
This Christmas, may the joyful simplicity of the story of Jesus’s birth be the story we tell to others.
The best Christmas gift is Jesus bringing peace and forgiveness to others.
Do you struggle at times to find the right words to talk about the good news to someone who hasn’t yet accepted it? If so, the apostle Peter offers a refreshingly flexible approach to sharing our faith. He urges us to give others a reason to ask about our hope in Christ (3:15). If we honor Christ as Lord in our hearts first, the difference it makes in us will prompt questions (v. 15). Peter envisions the kind of transformation that others will envy—in the best sense of the word. Those living under the influence of Christ will treat one another with compassion and humility (v. 8). They won't return evil for evil, or insult for insult, but rather blessings for curses (v. 9). This difference in our lives will help others open themselves up to receiving the best gift they could ever receive.