Introduction. Read 1John5v1to12.

This is a brief and simple Christmas Day message based on the arresting words in John's first epistle: And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. Jn5v11and12.

A young artist in Florence spent much time and effort carving a marble statue of an angel. It appeared perfect. The artist decided to ask the opinion of the great Michelangelo. The Master pronounced, "One thing is lacking." The artist was distraught. Eventually one of the young sculpture's friends asked Michelangelo what he meant. "It lacks life," was his reply.

For many months the new fashion editor of the Daily Telegraph modelled clothes. Now there is no doubting Lisa Armstrong's way with words. How she manages to write day after day about clothes is beyond me. But she is a disaster as a model. The outfits she wears look as if they have been draped on a clothes horse. She does not give them life.

I wonder if we are like the young man's angel or the clothes Lisa Armstrong models - satisfactory but somehow lacking life. Well, John's message is: He who has the Son has life. Jesus came to give life and to give it more abundantly.

I hope to illustrate this by answering the question: When are we at our best? I believe we are at our best when:

(1) We are with those who think well of us.

Many are at their best on Christmas Day in the company of family and friends - surrounded by those who love and like them.

In 2012 and 2013 I had several visits from old pupils. Now generally it is only a teacher's fans who come to see him! It is lovely to see those who have affection for you and are grateful to you. I come to life in the company of my former pupils. I am very animated. Indeed, I almost sparkle.

If we have the Son as our Saviour and Lord, God approves of us. He is delighted with us. God thinks so highly of those who believe in the Son that he adopts them into his family. If we have the Son we become God's children. The assurance of our new status in Christ imparts a cheerful confidence and sense of well being.

(2) We make others happy.

Far too often in this life we are interested in only three people: me, myself and I. Theodore Roosevelt thought so highly of himself that his children said, "Father always wanted to be the centre of attention. If he was at a wedding he would like to have been the bride and if he was at a funeral he was sorry he couldn't be the corpse."

We are actually often seen at our best when we make OTHERS happy. Pastor Steve Shepherd was on his way home from holiday with his family when he stopped for a meal at the Hilly Billy Junction restaurant, Willow Springs, Missouri. The food was unremarkable but the meal was made memorable by Keisha, the waitress. She was the nicest, friendliest, most gracious waitress that Steve Shepherd had ever met. Keisha transformed their meal. I am sure that Keisha had more life as she gave happiness to others.

I always make for the same checkout till when I shop in Waitrose. It is the till Jane operates. Jane calls me by name. She is interested in me and asks how my week has been. Jane makes me happy and as she chats, smiles and her eyes sparkle surely she is seen something near her best.

If we have Jesus as our Lord we have life because he sets us the very best of examples. He went around doing good. Jesus made countless people happy. He made blind Bartimaeus happy; he made Jairus happy; he made Legion happy; he made the man born blind happy; he made the woman who touched the hem of his garment happy; he made Martha and Mary happy when he raised their brother from the dead; he made Zacchaeus happy. If we follow Jesus' example and do good and make others happy we shall be seen at our best, we shall have life.

(3) Help is readily at hand.

A ready helper gives peace of mind. Many years ago my father would sometimes travel to Ipswich to help out on the market garden my grandfather owned. Whenever my father turned up grandfather would relax. He just did some little jobs that appealed to him - much to his wife's disgust. My grandfather knew that his son would do everything that needed doing. His presence brought him peace of mind.

There were a few days in 2012 when I had no peace of mind. It was the week I spent putting up new, heavy and expensive curtains in my lounge. It was a job I struggled with and wondered whether I could complete successfully. I would have felt so much better about the enterprise if I had a D.I.Y. expert by my side to give advice and help.

One morning in December I went to my car and tchhhhch - a little click and nothing else. I was stuck. I didn't feel too bad about it because I am a member of the AA and help was only a phone call away. The engineer arrived and discovered the problem was a blown fuse - something remedied in about two minutes!

He who has the Son has life because all those who believe in Jesus have a helper at hand. Jesus gives to all his disciples the Holy Spirit - the Heavenly Helper. He will enlighten, guide, strengthen and sustain.

I made good progress putting my curtains up until I tried clicking the second curtain rail into the plastic supports. Click, click, click - all going well until I reached the last support. The rail would not click into place. I pushed, twisted, pushed and wriggled but to no avail. I had a rest and tried again, sweating profusely and muttering under my breath. How I longed to hear that final: Click. I took another rest. By this time I was so desperate I actually prayed, "Please God help me get this curtain rail up." I climbed on the ladder and tried once more. Just a little push and - wait for it - CLICK. So there you are - even when it comes to putting up curtains I had a helper close at hand.

(4) We are intensely grateful.

Gratitude imparts a glow to our lives. Dr Granger Westberg, the founder of Wholistic Medicine, Inc., Chicago, Illinois, used to ask this question when he talked to nurses, doctors and pastors: "What is the healthiest hour of the week?"

How would you answer that question? Dr Westberg surised many people by answering, "The hour of worship on Sunday morning." A major medical study shows that the main factor in staying healthy is gratitude.

I wonder what you are most thankful for. It may be your wife, husband, children, parents ... . There are many things I thank God for in my prayers: My Christian upbringing, my free education, my teacher's pension, the near misses I have had in my car and all the mistakes my longsuffering pupils forgave me.

But most of all I am grateful that Jesus saves. The whole New Testament can be summed up by those two marvellous words, Jesus saves. I am so thankful that I have a Saviour powerful and willing to rescue me from the dominion of sin. In the words of the writer to the Hebrews: He (Jesus) is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. Heb7v25.

He who has the son as Saviour has a life sweetened by gratitude.

(5) We have something to look forward to.

There are lots of things I used to look forward to: a game of bridge in the school lunch hour, hockey in the winter and cricket in the summer and long walks alone or with friends. Sadly, I enjoy none of these pleasures any more. As I get older life is impoverished and I have less and less to look forward to.

Notwithstanding the losses brought about by ageing I have a better life to look forward to - eternal life beyond the grave.

My confidence is not based on wishful thinking. I am not like little Billy. He was full of mischief. One day after he had been particularly irritating Billy's mother said, "How do you expect to get to heaven with behaviour like that?" After a pause for thought Billy answered, "Well, I'll just run in and out and keep slamming the door until they say, 'For heaven's sake, either come in or stay out.' Then I'll go in."

My confidence is based on the Son. He who has the Son has life John asserts: God has given us eternal life and this life is in his Son. 1John5v11.

          And then one day I'll cross the river;
          I'll fight life's final war with pain;
          And then as death gives way to victory,
          I'll see the lights of glory and I'll know he lives.

          Because he lives I can face tomorrow;
          Because he lives all fear is gone;
          Because I know he holds the future
          And life is worth the living just because he lives.

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