Editor’s note:  This message originally appeared in The Trail in 2014.  It has been updated and posted here as a Christmas Devotional

For God so loved the world… How much is “so”? Perhaps the image of a toddler spreading their arms comes to mind, straining to extend just a little further as they say, “thiiiiis muuuuch!” For me, John 3:16 has taken on new meaning these last two years with the birth of my own son.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only son…” “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given…”

These verses reach my heart now in a way they didn’t a couple of years ago. As you parents read this, perhaps you nod your head in understanding. For those of you who haven’t experienced parenthood, I know you can at least imagine the bond between parent and baby. God loves us. Nothing could say this more sincerely than the gift of Christ at Christmas and His sacrificial death and resurrection on at Easter.

God’s love for us so far exceeds the ability of language to express it that I won’t attempt to quantify it here other than to say, a son is a gift not lightly given.

In return, we so love God that…

how could we finish that line? That we would give up 10% of our income? That we would put a fish symbol on the minivan? That we would give up our Sunday mornings?

How much do we love God?

Before this guilt trip gets too far down the road, let me remind us all that God’s love is a gift – no strings a attached.

The fun of Christmas (apart from its massive Christian significance) is in the exchange of gifts – the moment that says, “I love you” without the worn out clunkyness of the words themselves.

So with the trauma of Black Friday behind us and perhaps all shopping checked off on our list; let’s not forget to ask, “What are we getting Jesus this year for Christmas?” What do we get the Almighty One who has literally everything?

The same thing He asked for last year, and the 2000 years before that: Our hearts.

This year, let’s commit to learning better what it means to love God and enacting that love in our lives. It won’t be easy. God can be difficult to understand, much less emotionally engage with. But He’s there. He gave us his only son, and he desires our love. Whether it be cracking open our Bibles a little more often, making financial decisions differently, or risking our street cred by letting our faith show in public, let’s take new opportunities this year to love God.

Why? Because He first loved us.