We are now into the last week of Advent and moving rapidly towards the birth of Christ. Today’s post comes from Tim Morey. Tim is the founding and lead pastor of Life Covenant Church in Torrance, CA, the author of Embodying Our Faith(IVP), the husband of Samantha and the father of two little beauties, Abby and Hannah. He blogs athttp://embodyingourfaith.com.
I remember my confusion the first time I realized that at places in the Gospels Jesus talks about the kingdom of God as having already arrived, and in other places he speaks of the kingdom as yet to come. What gives, I thought. Is the kingdom here now or is it coming later?
The answer to this puzzler, I came to learn, is “yes.” In Jesus’ birth, the kingdom has broken into human history in a new and significant way. Yet the kingdom has not yet arrived in all its fullness, and won’t be fully realized until Jesus returns. As theologians sometimes put it, the kingdom is both already and not yet. Or to paraphrase N. T. Wright, it’s as if God has taken a page from the end of history and put it in the middle of the story. The glorious future that awaits us has begun now, and Jesus invites us to participate in the present reality of his kingdom.
Advent places us squarely in the middle of this reality. In this season we reflect on the first coming of Jesus – his virgin birth, God incarnate, the miracle of God Near Us. And at the same time we are reminded that the King will return in glory!
So Advent reminds us that we live between these two events, the first and second Advent of Christ. We live between the times, in the already and not yet of God’s kingdom. So how do we, as followers of Jesus, live out this reality? What does it look like to be faithful to living as Advent people? Three suggestions.
First, we call on Jesus to help us live as whole people. God is restoring the world to the way it should be, and that includes restoring you and I to the way we should be. God’s ultimate purpose for us is to fashion us into the likeness of Christ – to bring healing to the places in us that are broken, to bring holiness to places that are sinful, to nurse to health the places that are wounded, to integrate us where we are fragmented. Advent reminds us that Jesus is making us whole, and invites us to lean into that work.
Second, we call on Jesus to help us live missionally. We pray with Jesus, “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” To pray this is to also ask the question, God how might you use me in answering this prayer? How does my presence (and your presence in me) in my home, my school, my workplace, my church, my city – contribute to this world looking a bit more like heaven? We are reminded in Advent that God’s chosen vehicle to bring about the reality of his kingdom is you and I, in the power of the Holy Spirit. Are we living missionally?
Third, we call on Jesus to help us live expectantly. Christians are people of hope. No matter what today brings, a Tomorrow is coming when the King will return. Justice will come. Mercy will rule. Righteousness will reign. Peace will prevail. Tears will be wiped away, people separated by sin or by death will be reunited, “night” and all it implies will be gone, the sun itself will be superfluous in the overwhelming light that is Jesus. This year’s Advent may find you in a place of joy or a place of struggle, but it reminds us all that Jesus will come again, that the baby in a manger is also the King of the universe, and that ultimately everything in this world will be as it should be. Come Lord Jesus . . .