Sometimes I think that there is nothing worse than unused gifts. We have all probably received a gift we will never use and we have all probably given a gift or two that have be put aside unused, thrown out, or re-gifted.
I know my kids are hard to buy gifts for because they are picky teens. What’s cool one day, is lame the next. The safest bet is now gift cards or money.
I can also remember, as a young child, wrapping up two or three hardcover books for my dad for his birthday, which I had carefully selected for their content (the title and cover art mainly), weight, and size. One of the books, I remember was called “The man from U.N.C.L.E.”. I had, of course, selected all the books from the bookcase in the basement of our own house.
“Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” – Luke 12:32-40
Gifts are complicated. Not surprising, so are the gifts that God gives us. In Luke’s gospel chapter 12, Jesus says, “Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32-40)
God gives us the kingdom. Now, that is some gift!
This statement does sidestep some of our theological debate around what you and I have to do to be saved, by faith and believing or by doing good works. Jesus says that it is the “Father’s good pleasure” to give the Kingdom to us. God gives it like a gift. That sounds a bit like Jesus saying, it is the Father’s good pleasure to give us the air to breathe. And actually, that a pretty good example because that is about a meaningful as you choose to make it. If God gives the kingdom to all of us, and we all have it, then how does it mean anything? Can’t we easily just go about doing what we want with it. Kind of like what we do with air. We can just take it for granted. Or, as Jesus hopes we will, we can see it as deeply meaningful, and be overwhelmed by how important and essential it is to our life and existence. Is God’s gift of the Kingdom something we accept, but treat as unvalued and misunderstood? Or it is something we receive thankfully and respond to its’ magnitude by striving to show how it makes a difference in our life?
I think that if we reflect on how great a gift it is that God gives us the kingdom, then we can’t help but desire to respond with action to that gift by being a participant in that Kingdom.
Anything we buy on earth is temporary and transient, but the blessings of the Kingdom are ours forever.
One important way to respond positively to this gift from God, is by valuing what is truly valuable. It is important for us to resist being caught up in the value system of our consumer driven culture that tries so hard to makes us believe that we can buy happiness, contentment, and justice. Anything we buy on earth is temporary and transient, but the blessings of the Kingdom are ours forever. Instead we can use our earthly wealth to help others. Giving alms is an action that reflects God’s own gift giving. It means looking for and identifying others in need around us and doing something about it. Alms giving is helping, caring, and sharing from whatever abundance God has given us.
respond to the gift of the Kingdom is by being ready
A second important way to respond to the gift of the Kingdom is by being ready and prepared to live in it every day and every minute. Everyday is full of moments where we might need to be ready to respond and to help reveal the kingdom to others. Not one of us leaves our house in the morning without some sort of purpose or destination in mind, but when you leave you might just meet or walk by, or drive past, someone who needs some help or care. Are you ready to respond? Are you prepared to change your plan, alter your destination, take a detour, or maybe just pause for the moment necessary to give some of the gift with Christ in your heart?
God gives us the Kingdom. We respond by being a participant in it, acknowledging its’ worth and being ready to live in it!