You're 7 years old and it's Christmas morning. You've opened the stockings and torn through all your presents. As you sit on the living room floor playing with the newest action figure or cooking toys or whatever you wanted when you were 7 years old, were you thinking of Santa? Were you thinking about the jolly elf that gave you the gifts or were you so focused on the gifts that you forgot everything else? If you're anything like me, you probably were pretty focused on the toy rather than the guy who gave it to you.
Many people, in many different stages of their journey with God, find themselves in very similar situations. Maybe you're in one now--where you are so focused on getting "one thing" that you forget all about who can give it to you or has given it already. You see, I think it's a pretty common mistake we all make. God controls everything obviously, but he's hard to see or feel or understand. A new job, on the other hand, is very easy to see. So is a new car or a healed marriage or whatever your "one thing" is. It's easy to see, therefore it is easier to worship.
After Jesus died and rose again, he showed himself to the disciples and they were amazed. Well every disciple but one--Thomas. Thomas happened to be out buying groceries or running errands when the biggest moment in history happens. So when he comes back, the other disciples are crowding around him telling him all about how Jesus had come back. Thomas thinks they've gone absolutely nuts. They're off their rocker. Jesus can't come back from the dead because people don't do that.
Well, 8 days later, Jesus comes back and Thomas is there this time. So Jesus says to him:
“Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” John 20:27-29
Jesus says that those who haven't seen him raise from the dead are blessed because belief without that kind of evidence is hard. It's hard to worship something that isn't tangible. In most ancient eastern cultures, there was a statue or some idol to worship because people want a physical god to see. But the God of Christianity isn't like that. The God of the Bible asks us to focus on him in spite of the things we can see because more than giving us good gifts, he wants a relationship with us.
God isn't in this for one night of extravagant gift giving. He's in this for the long haul. He could give extraordinary amounts of good things and sometimes he absolutely does. But that isn't the end goal. The end goal is for you to love him in such a way that the gifts are a secondary concern.
When a man proposes to a woman, typically it's done with a pretty expensive metal and gemstone. It is a wonderful gift that most women cherish, but the gift is relatively meaningless without the promise behind it of future love. The reason the engagement ring is priceless is because there is a relationship attached to it. This is what God wants with us.
He wants us to look at our "one thing" and decide that Jesus is the only thing.
More important than any gift we receive from God is a relationship with God himself through Jesus. There's nothing we can do to earn that relationship and nothing we can do to lose it. All we need to do is say that God is who we are committing our life to because he raised Jesus from the dead on our behalf, then believe it. That is all it takes to turn God from Santa into Savior in our life.