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“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.” —John 3:16 – NIV

We may read or hear this familiar verse and dismiss it with an “I know that verse! I can even quote it.” However, at the beginning of this new year, I wonder if we’ve given adequate attention to the depth of meaning of how God loved us so much that He sent Jesus Christ to enter our sinful and oppressive world. Is that a cause for celebration? Absolutely! This question makes me stop and consider if I marked the Christmas season with adequate focus on Christ, the joy and its full meaning. What a profound gift!

It can be so easy for us to be caught up in the business of the season and so preoccupied with things and events that we miss the most important basis for entering another year—the fact that Christ came! That is a cause for celebration—not only for one day in a year but for every day. It also reminds us of the great cost involved in our Lord’s coming.

Frequently, when we think of cost, it is our cost that is counted as the bills come due in January.  A recent BNN Bloomberg report (November 16, 2023) stated that “Half of Canadians purchased holiday gifts on credit last year, and one in four of them said they have still not paid it off, according to the data.” That means that 25% of Canadians still owe for purchases they couldn’t afford in 2022.

Our contemplation of cost is often self-focused, causing us to fail to make the best choices. At times, our decisions are more about things, than about the Lord. This adds to the stress of our holiday season—exhaustion, overspending, debt, and frustrations. Our direction and energy have been side-tracked.
When we take time to consider and give thanks for the deep cost the Triune God paid in sending Jesus—Creator of the universe, King of Kings—His Son, to live among us, our focus is renewed.  The all-powerful One left the glories of heaven to become a helpless baby with all the limitations you and I have.
This hectic Christmas period has been a reminder of my dependence on a GPS (Global Positioning System) to lead me in the right direction and correct location. I have heard those words, “You have arrived,” only to discover too late my navigation system was wrong. Maybe you have arrived in 2024 recognizing you have been following societal pressures in this recent season rather than the eternal and reliable navigation system of God and His Word.

In this new year, a loving God invites us to do a check on our direction and to realign our lives with His values and purposes. Let’s celebrate Jesus’ coming each day with a deeper thankfulness for the cost to God and for the salvation that is ours because He released Christ to come into this dark world. Let us prioritize deepening our relationship with our Lord as we journey in 2024 so that others see us reflecting Jesus and God’s amazing mercy and love.

—By Char Bates, CESLM Board