Advent Week 5: Anticipation
For many of us, Christmas Day was one of the most important days of the year, which is obvious given the amount of preparation that often goes into it. Schedules, plans and budgets are adjusted months in advance. Family members travel in from far away. As a matter of fact we added 2 new members to our family from Uganda this Christmas, but I digress. Decorations are perfectly placed, menus are planned, gifts are purchased, wrapped and hidden and then re-hidden. There is intentionality, joy and anticipation all because this day is significant, valuable and also because we believe it is a reality.
Christmas isn’t a pretend day; it’s real. We wouldn’t go through all the trouble of trimming trees and fighting crowds if we didn’t believe Christmas was, in fact, an actual day. We trust it to come on the same date every year, and out of love and expectation, we make every necessary preparation so that when December 25 becomes our reality, we’ll be ready.
We spend months preparing to celebrate and remember Christ’s first coming. How much more should we seek to be ready for the day of His second coming? That day, too, is a reality, an absolute certainty. Unlike Christmas Day, which we know to expect every 25th of December, only the Father knows the day and hour His Son will return, but He is coming. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Beloved One, will return to the earth. It has been promised.
In the fullness of time, He will split the sky and descend to destroy all wickedness, receive the worship that is rightfully His, and usher in a new age – one free of sin, suffering, disappointment and fear. On that day, the children of God will walk in full-hearted belief and unrestrained delight as we see our Beloved face to face. We will be free from the sin and the brokenness of this world. And that will be wonderful, but the real treasure is Jesus. His return marks the beginning of unbroken, unending fellowship with Him. It is a day we should believe in, think about, look to and prepare for with joy, anticipation, hope and holy fear.
The day of Jesus’ return is certain and coming, but (so far) it is not today. At this time, we find ourselves much like the Israelites long ago – a people in waiting – which begs the question: how then shall we wait, and what does it mean to be ready for that day? How should we, as the people of God, live as we look toward and long for the coming of Jesus?
- We should live as if we believe Jesus is, in fact, returning. In the same way that we have made thoughtful, intentional preparations for Christmas because we knew and believed it was an actual day that was actually coming, we are to live lives of thoughtful, intentional preparation for the actual day that Jesus will actually return. (Matthew 24:42-44)
- We should be faithful and wise stewards of everything that has been entrusted to us by God, understanding that all of it—whether possession, ability, talent or gifting – actually belongs to Him and exists for His glory. (Matthew 24:45-51; 25:14-30)
- We should have hearts that have been tended and prepared for His coming by being full of faith, love, worship and overwhelming delight in Jesus. We will fight and flee from sin and do all that is needed to be found faithful to our first love. (Matthew 25:1-13)
- We should love and care for those who are poor, weak, cast out and in need. True disciples of Jesus cannot and will not ignore the plight of the least of these. We will serve, love, give, go and pray for those in need of food, drink, clothing, friendship and comfort. (Matthew 25:31-46)
- We should love the nations and proclaim the gospel both far and near. As the church family, we are the vessel appointed by God to herald the gospel in all the world through both word and action. (Matthew 24:14)
The Bibles exhortations are just as much for us today as they were for the believers long ago. We, too, are living in the days of God’s patient mercy. Christ will not return until the gospel of the kingdom is preached in all the world and the full number of those appointed for salvation has been brought into the family of believers. We need to be reminded, as those who are dearly loved by God, that really believing in and looking toward Jesus’ return changes the way we live. It reorients our hope and perspective. It creates a sense of urgency, sobriety and giddy anticipation – just like a child who cannot wait for Christmas morning. Let us, as the people of God, be found ready in the waiting.
As this Christmas season comes to a close, take some time to reflect upon how the reality of Jesus’ return affects the way you live. May your heart be full and your eyes bright as you hope in all things in Christ and look to His coming. Take heart, beloved. It won’t be long.
This is anticipation…