“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son….”
A few years back, the minister of music and I decided to try something different on the last Sunday night before Christmas. We had done all the pageants and children’s musicals and there was nothing more that just “had” to be done. So, Ken and I came up with the idea of a “homespun Christmas,” where anyone who wished could come to the microphone and sing a Christmas carol.
After all, what could happen other than a few tone-deaf members grating on our ears? Hey, it was a Sunday night. What did we have to lose?
We ended up with an irregular collection of performances. A dad and his son sang a duet that hit the occasional correct note, but they were charming and everyone loved it. A family sang harmony and blessed the crowd. There were solos and a little karaoke-type stuff. But one number in particular was unforgettable.
Someone in our congregation had put out the word that “just anyone” could come and sing. So they did. No one knew those two teenage girls. I think they came from the other side of the metro area, maybe 25 miles away. Their short dresses indicated they were not regulars in our church or possibly in anybody’s church.
They sang a rather seductive version of “All I want for Christmas is you” that would not have been out of place in a smoky barroom. (Anyone unfamiliar with the song will have no trouble finding it on youtube.)
Brother Ken sat there wondering what act could best follow this and what he should say about this song.
As the sisters sat down, I went to the mike, thanked them and said, “Yes, Jesus–all we want for Christmas is you.”
“Nice save,” the staff said to me later.
This is the place for a good old-fashioned “lol.” Our ministers still talk about that song and that moment.
All He wants for Christmas is you.
You and I and others like us were the motivating reason for Christmas in the first place.
“But when the fulness of time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, that He might redeem those who were under the Law…” (Galatians 4:4).
“…that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
He did it for you.
(The signs that say “Jesus is the reason for the season” are exactly right, but there is a sense in which Heaven looks upon a lost mankind and says “You are the reason.”)
We keep offering Him substitutes when all He wants is us.
“Well, Lord, since I’ll not be giving myself to you, how about a little of my time….some of my money…a prayer or two. Maybe an hour of worship?”
“I’m willing to join the church for you, Lord, and even be baptized. Will that satisfy you?”
“If I go as a missionary, could I keep back some of myself for me?”
“I urge you therefore brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1).
This is what’s going on in Micah 6 where the prophet asks, “With what shall I come to the Lord and bow myself before the God on high?” Micah then suggests some possibilities, the usual substitutes people have been known to offer God from the beginning of time: “Burnt offerings? Yearling calves? I know–maybe thousands of rams! And ten thousand rivers of oil! He’d surely love that! Or most of all, perhaps He would like my child, ‘the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul’?”
None of these things. They’re all weak stand-ins for what God really wants: us. Micah puts it like this: “He has told you, O man, what is good, and what does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:6-8).
A penitent David said, “For thou dost not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it. Thou art not pleased with burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit. A broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise” (Psalm 51:16-17).
When God’s messengers stand before you, they are not after what is yours but you.
“Not that I seek the gift itself, but I seek for the profit which increases to your account” (Philippians 4:17).
The Macedonians did so well in their giving. “They first gave themselves to the Lord and (then) to us by the will of God” (II Corinthians 8:5).
Paul said to the Corinthians, “For I do not seek what is yours but you” (II Corinthians 12:14).
And that’s the point.
The Lord does not accept substitutes. (Jill Briscoe suggests this is what Moses had in mind that day on the backside of Horeb when God fingered him as the deliverer of His people from Egypt. In essence, Moses said, “Here am I; send Aaron.” That wonderful line is the title of Mrs. Briscoe’s unforgettable book.)
The Lord Jesus said, “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? And in your name cast out demons? and in your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you who practice lawlessness” (Matthew 7:22-23).
He wants you.
If He gets you, He gets everything you have.
And that’s why, for some in the crowd, the thought of His getting you sends panic throughout your system.