by Joel Levin, Western Australia
I thought I’d get myself prepared early for Christmas this year. Going through the list, I found one name that I struggled with for gift ideas… the name on the list was GOD. After all, what would God, the ancient of days, the creator of all there is, the big guy, want for Christmas?
So I turned to the religions around the world for some guidance as they profess to know him best.
A few suggest that awe and respect are the perfect gifts. But this didn’t fit my experience of the big guy; every time I have felt him, the feeling was asking (not expecting) me to recognise I was equal to him, and that I couldn’t show him respect without respecting myself first. After all, what would someone who knows all and sees all need with the adoration of others?
A few religions seem to think the best gift is to walk around scared of his might and fury and to be subservient to his will. All I needed to do was to look at my own children to realise this wouldn’t be something he’s interested in. There was no way I’d want my kids to feel scared of me. If my kids didn’t grow up with the ability to make and be responsible for their own choices, I would somehow feel like I have failed them.
A few suggested guilt and repentance would be the ‘new black’ this season. Again, I remembered when my kids were learning to walk, they didn’t need to feel guilty that they couldn’t walk yet, nor seek forgiveness if they tripped and fell. How could a love that is unending ever judge – and if you don’t seek an ability to judge, what do you need the ability to forgive for?
A few suggested exclusivity and prestige. Now I thought this would be a something I could do – make him feel special (and by reflection make me feel special for knowing him), but then I realised those guys that walk around wanting to be ‘better’ than everyone usually came across as arrogant and/or very insecure. Neither fitted my experience of God.
Finally I stumbled on a suggestion that God is already love: not an emotional, needy or dis-empowering love, but a love so simple, true, consistent and strong that God doesn’t need anything that affirms him, makes us beholden to him or makes him the controller of our fate. All he might be waiting for is for us to realise that we are the same love he is.
The beauty of this gift is that when I allow the possibility that I am this love too, not as prayer, not as something I wish for, but in how I live my life, I get a gift, others I meet get a gift and the big guy sees another prodigal son return… at last a gift that truly keeps on giving.