Finally, A Gift I Need! — Adam’s Angle

The point-blank question shot out from an atheist: “If Jesus was so great, then why didn’t he do something useful — like invent eyeglasses or discover the cure for cancer?”

The jibe at my faith took me aback. My first reaction was to feel the burn of the suggestion that Jesus didn’t do anything more than start some “crazy religion.” Eyeglasses? Ridiculous. But a cure for cancer . . . I hated to admit that it made some sense.

Christmas is the time when we celebrate the birth of Christ — the time when God took on human flesh to dwell among us. But the atheist’s attack made me think. Of all the things God could have done during His incarnation, why did He choose to do what He did?

Shortsighted men and women may wish that God had given Jesus to us to invent eyeglasses, or to cure cancer or to make people billionaires. But, in Jesus, God didn’t give us what we wanted; He gave us what we needed — salvation from our sins.

What’s in a Name?

We know the Christmas story well. But listen again as the angel tells Joseph the meaning behind the Name above all names: “You are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).

The name Jesus means salvation. And that was Jesus’ business during the brief time he walked among us in the flesh.

Jesus was born. He led a perfect life. He died on a cross to pay the penalty for all the bad stuff you and I have ever done and could ever do. He rose again from the dead so that, “to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).

How Do Ya Like Dem Apples?

So how does the gift of salvation measure up versus the cure for cancer? Pretty darn amazing.

I don’t want to make that statement lightly. Holly and I both lost our dads to cancer in the past year and a half. Cancer devastates. We know it. But — what we often forget — is that sin is far more destructive.

Sin is the stuff that separated us from our loving Creator. Sin brought death — in every cancerous and non-cancerous form. It destroys relationships and permeates every bit of our fallen world. And we are utterly powerless to defeat it.

That is the beauty of God’s salvation. He has given us — through Jesus’ sacrifice for us — something we could never get any other way. “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us; He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification” (Romans 5:8; 4:25).

So, this Christmas you may get a lot of gifts you don’t really need. But as you celebrate, be sure to consider again the immensity of the gift you’ve been given through Jesus’ salvation.

— Adam Pivec
12/24/08