Beyond Wrapping Paper
What if you decided all you know about a gift based only on its wrapping paper?

READJohn 1:6-8 and John 1:19-28

Do you know that disappointment when you unpack a lovingly wrapped Christmas present that isn’t at all what you hoped for? We often rate the content based on the packaging.

John the Baptist was such a “present.” He called himself the “trailblazer of Jesus” telling people about God and the coming Messiah. Some then changed their lives and were baptized, others dismissed him as a crank.

A man named John was sent from God. He came as a witness to testify concerning the light, so that through him everyone would believe in the light. He himself wasn’t the light, but his mission was to testify concerning the light.

John 1:6-8

We too would probably have labeled him that. I know people who say: ‘I don’t want to have anything to do with God because I’ve had negative experiences with the church.’ They are confusing packaging and content.

John the Baptist wants to help us take a new, different perspective.

  • He prepared the way—he was not Christ.
  • The church should prepare the way—she is not Christ.
  • The prejudices you may have against the church because of negative experiences—they are not Christ.
  • The people who spread the gospel, who came to this world for you and for me—they are not Christ.

Nothing and no one in this world can presume to claim to be Christ. Only the Son of God, whose incarnation we celebrate at Christmas, is Christ.

I invite you during this Advent season to approach people like John the Baptist. Knowing we are not Christ. We may be weird and imperfect, but we have the best message in the world. With Christmas, someone comes who meets the suffering of people with compassion, who lives with generosity, and who teaches us how God really is.

So let’s not focus on people and churches but rather on the one who revealed God in human form: The child in the manger, Jesus Christ. John points to him.

And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.

Hebrew 12:1-2

Prayer: Remind me, O God, to not mistake the wrapping for the gift. Teach me to share the best message in the world every day. Amen.