Pretty much every American kid’s calendar year revolves around Christmas. The tree, the music, the treats, the excitement, and those presents though! Worth waking up with the first light of day every time.
The moment of salvation is kind of like Christmas for believers. Sure, you can make it spiritual by saying Jesus is born into your reality to redeem you from the dark and to proclaim tidings of great joy. And there’s truth to that. But let’s get a little more basic here: the gifts are great.
When you surrender to the Spirit’s drawing, you get a new identity, just loaded down with truth presents. In the place of someone who was always picked last, you unwrap the gift of knowing you are specially chosen (1 Peter 2:9). Then you turn to rip the paper off of recognizing you are deeply, fully, irrevocably loved (Jeremiah 31:3). You draw a shiny recognition that God is your Father out of a fancy bag labeled 1 John 3:1. Truth after truth passes through your hands until the entire living room is heaped high with piles of glory debris. Moving through with a giant trash bag to collect the trimmings, you line up your amazing new collection, trying to fathom it all. You see forgiven, delighted in, accepted, enough, whole, clean, free, purposed, never alone, wonderfully made, righteous, filled, known, wanted.
Because of Christ’s justifying you, it’s just as if you’d never done what’s wrong (so all of the bad is taken away from your account) but also just as if you’d always done what’s right (so all of the good is added to your account). A little heady? Here’s something to wrap your hands around and grasp tightly until your dying day: because of the cross, everything that is true of Jesus is now true of you. Let that sink in. Christ’s blood covers you, so when the Father looks your way, He sees His Son who has been perfect from before time began. This is the scandal of the gospel: that sinners become saints because of the rich kindness of our God.
So that’s the believer’s first reality, the grand opening of gifts on day 1. But somewhere along the way, the enemy sneaks in and, like the grinch, begins stealing presents. You might not notice it at first. Maybe not for years. But at some point, you’ll stop, look around, and think, “When did I stop believing that God truly loves me?” or “Why am I acting like I have to gain His approval?” or “How have I picked up all of this guilt about my past?” Or you’ll see a wall of fear that has been quietly constructed around you or a massive need to please others ruling your decisions. And then you’ll remember that living room brimming with “packages, boxes, and bags.”
While it’s important to open those gifts of new identity when we come to Christ, it’s just as important to guard them with intention and energy. Otherwise, the thief who comes to steal, kill, and destroy will trick us into believing we’re who we were on the other side of the cross: pathetic, pointless sinners with no power or purpose or Parent. And while what Satan tells us doesn’t change our true identity, it does affect what we believe about our true identity. You can have a million bucks in the bank, but if you are convinced you’re penniless, you’ll live as a beggar.
It’s time to take out those gifts, shine them up, and set up an alarm system. They were far too costly for us to allow our enemy to stuff them in his sack and shimmy up the chimney away from us. Reclaim what Jesus meant for you. It’s too good not to.