As our next few weeks are filled with hopeful expectation of friendship, family, and the warm air of generosity that often accompanies the Christmas season, I hope you are also taking the time to participate in the Church tradition of Advent. There is nothing mystical about the tradition; rather, it is simply an increased intentionality during the four weeks leading up to Christmas where Christians focus their thoughts on the incarnation of the Son in Jesus of Nazareth.
Think of the reasons why Jesus came, lived, died, resurrected, and ascended. Focus your family on the character of God and what this particular part of His redemption Story reveals about him. One gloriously comforting and humbling characteristic that the Incarnation shows is that God is not passive nor is He complacent while His People are apart from Him. Instead of simply waiting for an individual to find his or her way back to him, God comes to them.
“This saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners…” 1 Timothy 1.15
God promises that He, Himself, will seek out His lost People like a good shepherd (Ezekiel 34.11). God, Himself, will bear the burden of reuniting with His People (Isaiah 53). God, Himself, with betroth His People forever in faithfulness (Hosea 2.19). God, Himself, will call out His People from among all the Nations (Ezekiel 37.24, Isaiah 49.5-6).
In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.” 1 John 4.9
Jesus came to seek and save the lost (Matthew 1.21, Luke 19.10). Jesus is the Good Shepherd who seeks after the lost sheep (John 10). Jesus would pay the ransom for the People (Matthew 20.28). John the Baptist calls Jesus the Bridegroom and Paul reveals that the mysterious union between husband and wife in earthly marriages is ultimately a representation of Christ and His Church (John 3.29, Ephesians 5.32). Jesus calls and gathers God’s chosen People (Matthew 9.13, John 6.44). Jesus, by sending the Spirit to empower the Church, gathers God’s People from across the Nations (Matthew 28.19, John 10. 16, Acts 1.8).
“As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.” John 17.18
I hope these truths drive us away from complacency and towards the mind of Christ who laid down His exalted position in exchange for a lowly one. Christ endured much for the sake of those He loved, not because they were lovely, but because He chose to love them (Ephesians 2.1-5). May this season be one where we grow closer to Christ and examine our hearts for those passions of the flesh that rage against the Spirit in us. Whether you use specific devotionals, read a certain book, or focus on a particular passage of Scripture, I pray that you and I will come to December 25 and beyond with a greater fervor for Christ and God’s purposes in Him, through us, for the world.