A promotional idea by a Canadian airline warms the heart. They used technology to have a ‘real’ Santa commune with passengers in a lounge waiting for their flight. Santa knew their names and asked each family member what they would like for Christmas. Then, while the flight was happening, airline employees rushed to ‘play Santa’ and bought every gift requested (from socks to a large TV), wrapped them, and tagged each one with the recipients full name. When the airplane landed at its destination and the passengers gathered to pick up their luggage, they were astonished as these gifts came down the belt and into their possession. (See the video)
Today’s devotional verse has a connection to this story. It is about God who created all and is the source of all goodness. While He isn’t a ‘Santa’ who indulges our every wish, He is our very source of life . . .
The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for “In him we live and move and have our being” . . . (Acts 17:24–28)
The Bible speaks of a common grace, a goodness to humanity that is partly described in these verses. One author says that this grace began with a “stay of execution” in Eden. God told Adam and Eve that if they sinned, they would die, but He delayed that judgment. Instead, He promised a Seed of a woman that would triumph over sin and death, meaning redemption for all who would believe.
This common grace keeps all mankind living and breathing. It also gives all mankind a sense of God, even a longing. Every religious system testifies to a conviction of moral accountability before a holy God for how we treat each other. Common grace gives our hearts a sense of eternity, just as God also “makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew 5:45)
By this common grace, we also know that we fumble and have a vague sense of living in the dark, yet there is also a hope that nothing is quite impossible. We want to do good, yet under that desire is a vague knowing that we always miss that which we need the most. We sense that we fall short, mostly without realizing that this knowledge is a grace from God as well.
Grace presupposes fault and sin. We were not created as sinners, but in the image of God, meant to rely on Him in a moral and personal relationship. The first sin broke that relationship, and since then grace keeps us breathing until we can find our way back to God, or rather, until He brings us back.
I read this week that every good thing is from Him, the One who is far superior to any Santa. Yet in our sinful state, we pervert the good to make it personally profitable. While we still want that goodness that we lost in Eden, we do not have what it takes to make it pure and holy, godlike. Instead, we do our best, but always with mixed motives and selfish gain in mind. Even the giving of gifts warms our own hearts and certainly creates good customer relations.
Creation was God’s good gift. He is perfect, complete in Himself and needed nothing, yet made humans to love and to reveal His goodness. The response should have been gratitude, obedience, and intimacy, but we blew it. Grace became God’s next good gift, grace until the fullness of time when grace and God came into time and space . . .
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)
We marvel at modern technology that can project live images that talk to live people and make wishes come true, yet isn’t there a greater marvel? How about a God that became man, a God who speaks to people dead in sin and makes those who respond live again? And He does it without computers, cameras, wireless connections, or even hoards of helpers . . . but by grace. And by grace we can be saved through faith, not our own doing but because this is the unexpected and unequaled gift of God!