THE GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING

This Christmas season, there will be a pastor in Jakarta who will get on the pulpit and preached the most common Christmas sermon these days: Christmas is not about gifts; it’s about Jesus!

Amen. Of course Christmas is about Jesus. But if we think about it, isn’t giving gifts is always part of Christmas? The first Christmas, the birth of Jesus, is God’s greatest gift to humankind. And every Christmas, we should remind ourselves what God has so graciously given us through his Son Jesus.

So in this series, we will talk about the gift of Jesus – the gift that keeps on giving. What did Jesus bring for us? Do we know? Have we thanked him for these gifts? And even more importantly: what have we done with these gifts that he has given us? Because let me remind you: nobody likes to see their Christmas gifts given to their loved ones gifts are still wrapped unopened on New Year’s Day. Please don’t do that. God has given us wonderful things through Jesus. And this Christmas season, it is time for us to open them, enjoy them, use them, and hopefully share them with people who need him the most.

ROMANS 5.15-19 (NIV)

But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! 16 Nor can the gift of God be compared with the result of one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. 17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!

18 Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. 19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous. Romans 5.15-19 (NIV)

GOD HAS GIVEN US A GUARANTEE

The first gift we need to talk about is the gift of guarantee. Paul was teaching the church in Rome that we all have a sin problem. Adam have sinned and we have all sinned after him. Adam’s original sin brought death and chaos into creation and we are all suffering because of his sin and our own sins. Our God is holy and righteous, his plan is holy and righteous, and so if we want to be his people, we have to be holy and righteous as well.

But the problem is we are not capable to be righteous on our own merit. The Jews who know the Law and the non-Jews who had never heard the law are all equally guilty because all have fallen to sin. All have failed to live a righteous life.

This is why Jesus came that first Christmas day. Because of his sacrifice on the cross and his resurrection three days later, we have hope. We can have faith in him. And for those who have faith in Jesus, who are committed to follow him and obey him, Jesus has given them a guarantee that they will be made righteous.

So what does that mean? Two things. The first one, the one most people understand as Christians, is that if we believe in Jesus, God will guarantee us that we will be found righteous in the end. When Jesus comes back to judge the living and the dead, he will separate the sheep from the goats, the chaff from the wheat. And when that day come, all of us who have faith in Jesus will be found righteous. Our sins are forgiven. We are no longer sinners but God’s children instead. We will reign with him in the new heaven and earth.

I hope everyone here understand this foundational Good News of Jesus Christ. We are no longer sinners. We are righteous and will be found righteous in the end. That’s God’s gift of guarantee.

But this guarantee of righteousness is not only given so that we will be with him when Jesus comes back. This also guarantee that we can live a righteous life here in his life. That means that today we can be a righteous parent, a righteous spouse, a righteous boss, a righteous student, a righteous employee, a righteous citizen of the Republic of Indonesia, and for those of you who practice the law: yes you can be a righteous lawyer. This is God’s guarantee of righteousness.

DON’T BE AFRAID TO LIVE RIGHTEOUSLY

Let me say this again: we are no longer sinners; we have been made righteous. So start living righteously. Don’t be afraid to live righteously. God has given you the guarantee that you can live a righteous live because Jesus has made you a righteous person.

So let me ask you this: have you tried to be a righteous person? Or are you fine still living like everyone else is living? Living like you have always lived before? Why are you so afraid to try to be who you are – be a righteous person? Don’t you know that God has guaranteed you that you will be righteous? If you want to be who you are, who God has made you to be, then you will not fail. You will be righteous.

Just like a warranty on your phone or computer or appliances, God’s guarantee is only applicable if you try to live your life the way it has been intended to. Try asking for a replacement for your phone if you broke it because you were using it to play ultimate frisbee. See what happens…

It’s the same here. This guarantee works for those who want to live their life according to what God has intended it to be. So if you do want to be kind and loving and gentle and faithful, then you will be that righteous person. Why? Because that’s who you are. You can only be who you are. God has made you righteous. He has guaranteed us a righteous life. It is time for us to open that gift and live righteously.