Have you ever been given a gift for Christmas that left you thinking ‘What is this for?!’? I know I have. Perhaps it was a strange looking kitchen utensil that must be used for something… you’re just not quite sure what. Or perhaps a book about looking after dogs… but you don’t have a dog!

This Christmas, here at WorldShare, we are celebrating the greatest gift ever given, with the most wonderful purpose:

"For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him."

(John 3:16-17)

There are so many things I could say about these famous verses, but here are just two truths that I hope will both challenge and encourage you this Christmas and all year round:

  1. A Sacrificial Gift - “For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son…”

Particularly during this Christmas season, we joyfully celebrate the momentous occasion of the birth of baby Jesus. We marvel in awe at the true nativity story, so precious and special, and we rejoice in the miracle of God made man. Yet one element can tend to get lost: the fact that God gave his very own Son to the world as a baby, knowing that He would grow up to be crucified on the cross to pay for our sins.

In his Christmas Day sermon in 1626, John Donne, pastor and poet, highlights this by saying:

“[Christ’s] birth and his death were but one continual act, and his Christmas Day and his Good Friday are but the evening and morning of one and the same day.”

Such sacrificial giving of the Father! He gave his one and only Son to us, because He loves us. Not being a mother myself, I cannot begin to imagine the pain of giving up a son or daughter. Yet through the pain, God freely gave us his Son to redeem those who believe - what lavish generosity!

Having only worked at WorldShare since September, I am still discovering the breadth and impact of our ministry partners all over the world. As I communicate with them, I am struck daily by how sacrificially they are living. Many of them work in countries where it is difficult to be a Christian, sacrificing their reputation and safety. Many of them earn very little for the ministries they run, sacrificing their comfort and wealth. Many of them work with vulnerable, marginalised communities, sacrificing their time and talents.

So may this challenge us! How will our lives be sacrificial as we move into 2020? Will we give up things precious to us like our money, our talents and our time? Will we be those that model the Father in living and giving sacrificially?

2. A Life-Changing Gift - “…that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

But fear not, I am by no means trying to put a dampener on your Christmas joy! We are not meant to live sacrificially out of guilt for what God has sacrificed for us. No, He gave us Jesus because He loves us, and because He wants us to have eternal life, not perish; He wants to save us, not condemn us. Jesus, the greatest gift ever given, doesn’t come under the category of ‘What is this for?!’. He is a life-changing gift to those who believe! One we cannot keep to ourselves!

When I think of lives changed by Jesus, I am reminded of many of our ministry partners. One is Kanal Hayat, a 24/7 satellite TV station broadcasting the Gospel across a wide range of programmes to Turkey and surrounding areas. Their follow-up scheme ensures viewer responses are answered with either a home visit, to provide more information or prayer support, or connects them with local Christians and churches. They are certainly not keeping the greatest gift to themselves! This year, more than 100 people came to faith in Jesus and an estimated 40,000 contacts were made with people who may otherwise not have heard the Good News!

I have also been inspired by our ministry partners in Macedonia and Albania, featured in our recent appeal. They are sacrificially giving of themselves daily– sowing, watering and nurturing seeds of faith – sharing the Gospel, bringing hope and transforming lives in these unreached parts of the world. They too have seen the immense, life-changing power of the gift of Jesus. A network of 36 churches and humanitarian projects are extending throughout Macedonia, and 4 churches have been planted in predominantly Muslim communities in Albania. In the short time I have worked for WorldShare, it has been truly inspiring to see the sacrificial, life-changing gift being shared around the world.

So may this encourage us! Let us overflow with joy for this gift that has been so generously given to us. And let us share this gift so that many more may believe and have eternal life.

Join with us this Christmas as we proclaim: “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15)

Emily

Emily Hobbs is our Marketing & Communications Assistant here at WorldShare!

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