For most people, the official beginning of the festive season is signalled by the launch of the infamous Christmas adverts on TV – notably the nation’s favourite, the highly-anticipated John Lewis ad.
So far, the feedback for John Lewis’ 2018 campaign has been overwhelmingly positive. Entitled ‘The Boy and the Piano’, the advert is a short film starring Elton John. The viewer is taken on a journey with Elton, looking back through the years at stadium tours, playing in pubs, and school concerts. The climax of the advert shows a very excited (and very adorable) young Elton running to the living room on Christmas morning, where he unwraps his first piano and plays a couple of keys – mirroring his present-day self. The advert then closes with the tagline, “Some gifts are more than just a gift”.
The idea that some gifts have the power to shape us has really resonated with the population, with many people sharing their own stories of how certain presents have influenced who they are today. But can a gift really help us form a new identity?
In the Bible, there is a redemptive storyline throughout. God creates man; man turns away from God; God becomes a man and takes the punishment for the sin of mankind, Jesus rises from the grave, victorious over sin and death; man is invited to share in that victory. In choosing to take the punishment for our sin, God gifts us with the opportunity to live in freedom from our slavery to sin by believing in Him. This redemption is His ultimate gift to us. We are told that those who accept Jesus as their Saviour are given a new identity (2 Corinthians 5:17). They are no longer defined by their own feelings and actions, but by Christ who is in them.
In 1 Peter 2:9 – 10, we are given a wonderful affirmation of what it means to be a child of God.
He has chosen us: He saw us in our sin and shame, and still chose to have a relationship with us and save us from that sin.
He has made us holy: those who are in Christ are growing to be like Him in character; He has called us to be holy as He is holy, and we are transformed to His likeness (2 Corinthians 3:18).
He has made us a royal priesthood: Christ Himself has bridged the gap that was present between us and God while we were living in sin, and we now have access to God’s presence through Him.
There is potential in a gift to bring about complete transformation, and to even change the course of our lives. It doesn’t take a genius to tell you that Elton John is one of the most iconic musicians of our time, but who would he be today had he not had that first encounter with a piano as a young boy?
Likewise, a Christian’s identity is found in God’s redemptive purpose through Jesus. Had you not had an encounter with Jesus, who would you be today?
Bethany Macleod was writing for the Evangelical Alliance