Devotional Thought to Prepare us for Advent….
15 I do not call you servants any longer, because servants do not know what their master is doing. Instead, I call you friends, because I have told you everything I heard from my Father. 16 You did not choose me; I chose you and appointed you to go and bear much fruit, the kind of fruit that endures. And so the Father will give you whatever you ask of him in my name. 17 This, then, is what I command you: love one another. John 15:15-17 (TEV)
233 You spoke about the scenes in the life of Jesus which moved you most: when he met men suffering greatly… when he brought peace and health to those whose bodies and souls were racked with pain… You were inspired—you went on—seeing him cure leprosy, restore sight to the blind, heal the paralytic at the pool: the poor beggar forgotten by everybody. You are able to contemplate Him as He was, so profoundly human, so close at hand! Well… Jesus continues being the same as then. (2)
There is an attitude that negatively views contemporary worship (or that of 30-100 years ago) that treats Jesus to0 close, too intimate, too friendly. They would rather perceive God from the perspective of great distance, and perhaps great fear.
Which would make sense if we were approach Christ’s advent, His coming, with the anticipation of judgment without the cross’s benefit. To turn advent into a time of anticipating hell, fire, and brimstone, wrath and tribulation is wrong.
Don’t get me wrong, we need Jesus to come back, perhaps even desperately so. Life is too screwed up, we all need to be delivered from sin completely, we need to come home to God. But that turns advent from anxiety about Jesus coming, to realizing we and anxiety is more caused because of the wait we endure until He returns.
If we have friends we haven’t seen in ages coming to dinner during the holiday; we look forward to it. We anticipate it, we work hard, trying to get everything as perfect as possible. It is the same for Jesus second coming, we desire to grow in faith, we desire to see people come to know Him, to come to trust in Him, because He is our friend, because He loves us so completely.
Those contemporary worship songs which treat Jesus as a friend, they aren’t as far off base. They bring home that which we need to know, the attitude that Luther noted, makes the difference between one who knows God, and one who only knows of Him,
“For all outside of Christianity, whether heathen, Turks, Jews, or false Christians and hypocrites, although they believe in, and worship, only one true God, yet know not what His mind towards them is, and cannot expect any love or blessing from Him; therefore they abide in eternal wrath and damnation. For they have not the Lord Christ, and, besides, are not illumined and favored by any gifts of the Holy Ghost.” (2)
If we don’t understand God’s desire for an intimate, deep friendship with the people He calls and makes His own, we truly only know a God whose presence evokes fear and brings to the front of our heart the condemnation of guilt and shame. We have to realize the intent of Christ’s incarnation, to head resolutely to the cross, to show us the depth of His love, to bring us healing and forgiveness.
Yes, we should be in awe of God’s presence, we are overwhelmed by His glory, but a glory that pours out grace, that delights in showering us with His Mercy, embracing us in the love, even as the Holy Spirit sanctifies us. The awe of realizing God, in all His glory, desires to be our friend.
Which makes the wait of Advent tense, as if we hear every passing car as if it is our long awaited Friend…
For He is coming!
May your patience and desire to see God sustain you, even as you anxiously await His return. AMEN!
(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 1170-1174). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
(2) The Large Catechism of Martin Luther. The Apostles Creed: Explanation of the Third Article.
Devotional Thought of The Day:
28 About a week after he had said these things, Jesus took Peter, John, and James with him and went up a hill to pray. Luke 9:28 (TEV)
42 They spent their time in learning from the apostles, taking part in the fellowship, and sharing in the fellowship meals and the prayers. Acts 2:42 (TEV)
551 Flee from routine as from the devil himself. The great means to avoid falling into that abyss, the grave of true piety, is the constant presence of God. (1)
There is a joke (at least I hope it is a joke) about an elderly gentleman and an odd sense of romance. He was asked by a newlywed how often he told his wife he loved her. The old guy thought for a moment and said, “the day we got engaged.” Seeing the shocked look on the young man’s face, he followed that up with, “and I told her if I changed my mind, I would surely let her know!”
I can’t believe there exists a woman for whom this would be satisfactory.
And so I wonder why many of us settle for that kind of relationship with God. It’s not that He doesn’t tell us constantly that He loves us, for He dearly wants us to know He loves us, to be aware of His presence.
That is what all of creation is about, about our relationship with Him.
Imagine for a moment that the old man’s wife told the young couple, “Oh, don’t worry about us, I am too tired to pay attention to my husband telling me he love me. It’s too much work to drop what I am doing, and read a loveletter he carefully wrote me. I don’t want his comfort, or for him to treat me special. Are our excuses for not spending time with God, with His people, any better?
Are our lives so perfect that we don’t need to be comforted by the Holy Spirit, that we don’t need to be encouraged by our brothers and sisters in the church? Are we somehow more mature than the early church, who gathered regularly to pray?
If this letter is producing some guilt, that is not its intent. We have been given an amazing gift, a blessing beyond compare. The presence of God, and in scripture, the proof of His love. A gift we need to use, a gift that is a life changer, to know we walk through life with God.
Spending time in prayer, in readying and stuyding His word wih others, in celebrating the Lord’s Supper – it isn’t about duty, it is about knowing we are love… about hearing and seein that love…. Together, as His family.. And there is nothing better…
1. Escriva, Josemaria (2010-11-02). The Way (Kindle Locations 1331-1332). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.