The Advent of Obedience
I just got home from a very difficult funeral, reminded again that all of us need hope—a hope that transcends the brokenness of this world… a hope that exceeds the limits of human actions… a hope not rooted in the momentary but in the eternal; yet a hope that empowers the momentary with the power of the eternal…!
That hope has a name, and that name is a season—actually, the season that started in Bethlehem’s manger and ends when King Jesus returns. We enter the season of Advent according to the Church calendar; yet in reality, we have lived here our whole lives.
ADVENT—both the season on the church calendar and the reality we live in reminds of the great tension between once and future; now and not-yet; finished and yet to come… We are anchored in Advent by the great truth that Jesus came and the greater truth that He is coming again. We have HOPE because we have a sure foundation, even if the final structure is still being built…!
As Christians we struggle with “now and not-yet” constantly. The Kingdom of God is Now. Healing is real. Deliverance is a normal part of the walk. Hope is more than a concept—it is a Presence empowered by Christ who lives within us. YET… The Kingdom of God is not yet. We and everyone around us fails. Healing is real but not automatic. Deliverance is often messy and multi-seasoned. We live with secret doubts and fears and hurts; conflicted within and conflicted with those we live with and love the most.
ADVENT is home, and our home is a mess. We have a Rock-solid foundation in Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection and a Rock-solid future in His soon-and-certain return, but the present often seems like sinking sand even if we have built our house on the Rock…!
Jesus, in perfect obedience came, and in perfect obedience will come again. He came as a helpless Babe; He will return as the Conquering King. We live in HOPE, right now, because of these two great boundaries.
Yet, these boundaries do not perfect the mess of this fallen world. They bracket it, they put things into perspective, and they bookend all time while making this in-between season bearable. But life remains a mess…!
Advent is season of preparation, built upon Jesus’ first advent (arrival) yet focused upon His second advent. Christ has Died; Christ is risen; Christ WILL come again! Our whole lives are a celebration of the first and groundwork for the second. No one—certainly not Jesus—ever suggested that this life of advent would be easy!
SO… Advent requires obedience. Obedience to all Jesus did for us in His first coming. Obedience to all Jesus is doing to transform us now and make this short time on fallen earth redemptive and joyful. Obedience to live now with then in focus—to live our lives in a way that prepares us to live in the perfection that is coming soon.
YET… Advent also should remind us to take a deep breath, cut ourselves and those around us some slack, and realize that—even for the most mature and sincere believers—this is a fallen messed-up world and we all are fallen, messed-up people! We hurt the ones we love most and are hurt deeply by them—even as we struggle with our deepest darkest secrets, wondering how we could be so close to Jesus and so screwed up—all at the same time…!
Advent is where we live, and I pray you are living here with a gracious hope rooted in ongoing obedience to the One who was, and is, and is to come!