I just got a new book (A Guide to Prayer for All Who Seek God) that I am going to use as a devotional guide for the next year. It is based on the Church Liturgical Calendar that begins with the four Sundays of Advent – or the weeks leading up to Christmas – rather than starting on January 1. And since I just got it, that means I am playing catch-up already. But I was struck by these words that I read in the first section.
“Advent” has its roots in the Latin word adventus, or coming. This season proclaims the coming of Christ in the birth of Jesus, in the Word and Spirit, and in the final victory when God’s kingdom shall be complete. Our privilege as Christians is to receive the gracious gifts of God’s presence in Christ. Our task is to prepare for his coming so that we will not miss life’s greatest gift.
Sometimes the hype and clichés of the season distract us. The clever marketing efforts succeed in making us desire tangible things we can hold in our hands and savor as gifts. However, marketing hype and catchy clichés cannot answer the deep questions of the heart, explain the mystery of God’s presence, or help us comprehend the meaning of our existence. Yet all these gifts are promised to us in the Advent Season.
Yes, it is true that God’s astounding and radical intervention in our human history cannot be contained in the tame and timid displays of Christmas lights, catchy slogans, or the exchange of gifts. Advent confronts us once again with God’s unparalleled effort to communicate the message that all humankind is embraced and held close by a God of love. Jesus Christ has come, is present with us, and will come again in final victory when all darkness, pain, and evil will be no more. In Advent we begin again to try and make plain the wonderful truth of the most extraordinary good news the world has ever heard.
When I pair this with the chapter I just finished reading in Radical that reminds me that it is our calling, as the church, to take this good news to all the people of the world, my brain starts spinning. This good news is “the most extraordinary…the world has ever heard,” and yet, we don’t do share it as far and wide as we need to. Maybe we hint at it to some people. Maybe we hope that others will notice that there is something different about us and ask us. But I think that sometimes, we hope they don’t ask because we’re not sure what to say.
David Platt used the words “indescribable urgency” to describe how we should feel about sharing the good news with the world. I don’t know about you, but when I think of urgency and how it feels in my gut when it is urgent for me to get something done – whether it be get a check to the bank to cover something that I know is coming out, or get to one of my kids who is sick or finish a task at work that has a deadline – that is not the feeling I currently get when I think about the world needing to hear about Jesus. So to add the word “indescribable” in front of urgency and I know I don’t feel that. And why don’t I? Is it because we don’t talk about it? Is it because it is easier to ignore it? Is it because we are too busy to worry about anyone else but us?
Is it because we are living for this life and not an eternal life?
Hmmm. That one made me pause. If we were living for an eternal life rather than this one, would we feel stronger about making sure that others get to experience that eternal life, too?
And when I start down that line of thinking, I am reminded of that line in the quote above, “The clever marketing efforts succeed in making us desire tangible things we can hold in our hands and savor as gifts.” And I start thinking about all the stuff that I want. All the stuff on my kids’ Christmas lists. All the stuff that we have. All the time that we have spent wanting and buying and using this stuff. All the time that hasn’t been spent sharing with others the gift of Jesus.
How do I change that? How do I change me to want to change that?
I don’t. I ask the Lord for help. I ask Him for an awareness that I don’t have. I ask Him for that indescribable urgency about the eternal lives of those who don’t yet know Him. And I go from there, with the Lord’s help.
What do you think?