Reflections on the coming of Christ and the weeks after Advent.
Advent, the four weeks before Christmas, is a time of waiting and preparation, of anticipation and thoughtfulness, of hope and dreams. When Jesus gets here, our lives will be different because (fill in the blank) and our world will be different because (again, fill in the blank). We wait in breathless anticipation for Christ to come, for God to come into world. Joy to the world! The Lord has come!
Everything will be different when Jesus gets here.
Now, in these few weeks after Christmas, after celebrating the arrival of Jesus, have you noticed anything different? Has anything really changed?
It’s now January. The Christmas decorations have been put up. Family has returned to their homes, and we’re back into our everyday routines. Besides having to scratch out “2019” a few times and write in “2020,” most of us have slid back into our same old routines. Now, routines can be good and sometimes, helpful, but honestly, didn’t you expect more?
Jesus is here! Shouldn’t life be different? Shouldn’t life be more?
Yes. Yes, to all of that. Life should be more. If Jesus has come as we proclaim, we should be able to see the difference somewhere, in someone…
…but we don’t. Why not?
Because most of us don’t believe. Now, I know, you winced when you read that. You want to tell me that you do indeed believe. In fact, you believe a lot. Just ask you any question and you’ll show everybody how much you believe.
And you would be right. Most of us can get the answers right when we’re given the questions about our faith. Do we believe in the Trinity? Check. Did Jesus do miracles? Check. Was Jesus raised from the dead? Check again.
Ok, so how can I say we don’t believe? Because we don’t live it, and if you don’t live it, you don’t believe it.
As followers of Christ, we believe Jesus is the Son of God, the Savior of the World. Given that, we’d also have to say Jesus is the smartest man to ever live. Jesus understands something about life and what makes life matter that the rest of us don’t. That’s why we pay attention to His teachings. We believe they are true.
And we believe they are true because they’ve been field tested – lived out – for over two thousand years. Men and women have applied Jesus’ teaching to their lives and found out the Jesus way works best. The Jesus way works because Christ is present in the life of every follower teaching us how to live and giving us the strength to actually do what His commandments require.
Let’s face it. All of us at one time or another have tried to love our enemy. We failed. Not only did we fail, but we never got to the “like your enemy” stage. We conclude the commandments of Jesus are meant for really spiritual people, super-saints, but not for people like us.
So, if Christ is here, what difference can He make? Let’s face it. Some people are hard to love.
The only way I can answer you is to tell you, since Christ lives in you as His follower, Christ will love that person through you. Now, before you roll your eyes, listen to how this works.
When you decided to follow Christ, He promised to live inside of you. He promised He would teach you His ways and guide you through your life. This means there is a running conversation going on between the Spirit of Christ living in us and us. So, as we’re going through our day and we turn a corner and bam!
There he is! Our enemy is right in front us. What do we do?
Our natural response would be fight or flight. Either we engage in battle or we run away. Either way, our adrenaline is pumping, our heart beating fast…and we prepare for what’s next.
That’s when you’ll hear the Spirit of Jesus. “Relax,” the Spirit will say. “Your enemy can’t take anything that matters away from you.”
“Look at him,” the Spirit will say. “Do you see what’s going on his life? Do you see the fear, the pain? Can you help Me bring some healing and hope to his life as I did yours?”
And you will…in the beginning, it won’t be because you love your enemy, but because you love Jesus and you’ll love Jesus by loving your enemy. Make sense?
And here’s the most mind-blowing part of it all. In time, your one-time enemy will be one of your most valued friends. Yeah, I know, I didn’t believe it either until it happened to me.
Now, I believe it. Now, I live it.
What needs to change in your life? In your marriage? In your community? What have you prayed about that you now need to act on?
After all, you’ve been telling yourself everything will be different when Jesus gets here.