Christmas morning.  Your children are all excited.  The presents, clustered around the Christmas tree, are so inviting.  But they will wait.  The time comes and the melee begins with squeals of laughter.  Your oldest daughter has just discovered the gift that was always at the top of her wish list, and now she is holding it!  Her happiness palpable.  You help here overcome plastic shrink-wrap and then your eyes see that terrible phrase: Batteries Not Included.  Oh, no.  You hadn’t expected that and now you are faced with your daughter’s impatient disappointment.  A quick trip to the store and peace is restored.

Batteries not included.  It occurs to me that there may be a life lesson here.  God has gifted us royally.  We have everything we need to act on that gift and carry out God’s plan.  Everything has come to us freely, no strings attached, just a wonderful grace-filled gift.  Now it is up to us.  The commitment comes from us.  The energy comes from us.  It’s God’s plan, but it is our hands.

It really does come down to us and how we walk our Christian walk.  We attend church on Sunday, and maybe other days of the week.  We are active in our congregation, maybe teaching Sunday School, ushering, organizing activities within the church, preparing meals to be taken to shut-ins. We are active in our Bible study group or groups. We are Prayer Warriors and maintain prayer lists which are faithfully part of our prayer time.  We study scripture passages and try to discern how God’s word applies to our everyday life.  Is that the sum total of our Christian walk?

In my church, above the door where we exit the worship center, is a sign that reads: “You Are Now Entering the Mission Field.”  Maybe we see it each Sunday, maybe not.  But the sentiment is important.  We are not called to be only active within our church. Our mission is also on the other side of the church door, on the street, in our town, in the local hospital, wherever God’s love and grace is needed.

God gave us our marching orders when He gifted us.  25:35-40: “For I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you took me in; naked, and you clothed me: I was sick, and you visited me; I was in prison, and you came to me…I say to you, as you have done it to one of the least of these my brethren, you have done it to me.”  Jesus says to us today, “go and do likewise.”

So, you are in a supermarket line, in front of you is a young mother with three small kids and a cart full of food.  She is struggling to make up the different between her food stamps and her supply of cash. Do you have any doubt what Jesus would have you do at that moment?

A friend is grieving the loss of his wife of many years.  He is sad and seems depressed.  What would “I was sick and you visited me” mean to you?  How would you act that out?

The economy in your area has not been good, due to a factory closing.  You learn that the local food pantry is running out of food.  You worry about that and wonder about the families that are impacted.  But, what do you do? What would “for I was hungry and you gave me something to eat” mean to you?

The opportunities to use our God-given gifts are all around us.  We need eyes that really see, and ears that really hear, and a heart that moves us into action.

I started this essay with a poor analogy.  “Batteries not included” does not apply, not really.  The gifts of God are all complete, and while the energy does come from us, the heart of a Christian is driven by love, love is that energy. In any given circumstance, it is helpful to consider: What would Jesus want us to do! Remember “as you have done it to one of the least of these my brethren, you have done it to me.”  That is pretty personal, isn’t it?

For What It’s Worth.