For every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices; hence It
is necessary for this priest also to have something to offer.
Only 11 shopping days left, so the countdown to Christmas will say today. Let’s leave the gift-giving to friends and family for the moment and start thinking about what we can offer to God this Christmas. Now, you might be thinking, what does God need from me? Doesn’t God have everything? What can we possibly give to Him? Our next three reflections will give three different ideas about gifts we can give to God.
One gift we should give to God is the gift of evangelism. If we are so appreciative and grateful to the Lord for His many blessings, we should be eager to meet the Great Commission which He has commanded each of us to fulfill, to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
In I Peter 2:9, we read “But you are chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” We are all inheritors of the royal priesthood of Christ. This is different from the sacramental priesthood, to which certain men are called to and ordained into. Not everyone is called to the sacramental priesthood. However, we are all called to the royal priesthood. The word “royal” pertains to kings and kingdoms. We are all called to be inheritors of the Kingdom of God. We all have the chance to participate in this Kingdom in this life, and if we are judged worthy, for eternal life. The “priest” is the one who serves God, and who shares God with others. In this definition, we are all called to the royal “priesthood.” Again, only a few will be ordained to stand at the Holy Altar as sacramental priests, who offer the sacraments to the faithful.
Thus, if we are each inheritors of the Royal Priesthood, then it is incumbent on each of us to offer the gifts and sacrifices references in Hebrews 8:3. Thus, what do we have to offer to further the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
Before you become concerned that this is about giving money or going on an overseas mission trip, our offerings need to start out very basic. First, are we good examples of what it means to be a Christian? And before we can be a good example, we have to ask ourselves if we know what it means to be a Christian? The first thing we can offer to God is our time to get to know Him. Once we know Him, we hopefully come to love Him, and then to be a good example of what it means to be devoted to Him.
So, what does it mean to be a good example to others? The answer is simple, walk the talk. Live what we say we believe. If we believe that God is kind and forgiving, then we need to be kind and forgiving. If we believe in the commandment to love others as we love ourselves, then we should be generous when it comes to loving gestures towards others. In fact, in Matthew 5:16 we read “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” In other words, how we act should make it obvious, without us even saying it, that we are Christians. Only after being a devoted Christian can we possibly bring others to Christ.
The first people to bring to the Lord are those around us-our spouses, our children, and in some cases, maybe even our parents. Referring to the parable of the sower (Luke 8:5-15), our job is to throw the seed. The soil in the hearts of those who receive the seed is something we cannot control. We know that one of the Fruit of the Spirit is patience, and we know that for seed to grow in a heart of good soil, that it will take patience. (Luke 5:15) Thus, we can correctly say that it is the Spirit that converts the hearts of others. We merely throw the seed. We can’t force anyone to believe, including those closest to us, like our children. What we can and should do for our children is to throw the seed of faith to them as often as we can, by praying with them, reading the Bible with them, and bringing them to worship. Our kids have a much less likelihood to know and love Christ if we never expose them to Him. Just because we bring them to church all the time doesn’t guarantee anything, but it makes the likelihood that they will know and love Christ a lot higher than if we do not bring them.
The second way to bring others to the Lord, on top of being a good witness, is what I like to think of as “soft sell” evangelism. Invite someone to church, to come and see. This doesn’t mean come and commit, just come and see. When you are having a deep conversation with someone about something that is troubling them, tell them you’ll keep them in your prayers, or if you really want to be bold, ask if you can pray with them right then and there. This doesn’t oblige someone to do anything, other than accept a prayer offered for their well-being.
Of course, there are more loud and aggressive ways to bring people to Christ, I suppose, but I haven’t ever used them successfully. I think people come to Christ because they see others who set a good example, others who have a peace about them that is attractive to those seeking peace. I’d like to think that in my 25 years of being a priest, that people have come to Christ, or at least been strengthened in their faith because of something I have done. The other thing that I know is that people don’t come closer to Christ because of a sermon, or even a moving service, or most of the other things I uniquely do as a priest. People come to Christ because they see people acting Christ-like and that is attractive and contagious. People come to Christ because of things that ordinary, non-priests can do. Which means we can all do something to further the Gospel and make disciples.
Lord, thank You for the gift of You. Thank You for all the gifts associated with You-not just eternal life, but the gifts of this life-Your love, patience, generosity, forgiveness and so many others. Help me to be a good example of what it means to be a Christian, to not only understand You and Your love, patience and goodness, but to be able to be examples of these things to other people. Help me to understand You and to love You more deeply, so that I can be an example to others and a witness for You with even greater conviction. Help me to have the courage to throw Your seed, trusting that Your Holy Spirit will help it grow in the places it lands. Amen.
Spend a few minutes in this season where we think of the gifts we will buy for others and think about the gifts we can give to God, specifically how to further Him and the Gospel.