Sunday, December 1, 2013
Morning Psalms: 146, 147 | Evening Psalms: 111, 112, 113, Amos 1:1-2:8, 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 | Luke 21:5-19
One of the great themes of Advent is the focus on the Second Coming of Jesus. Our focus is not just on the annual celebration of His birth in Bethlehem and His earthly ministry, but on the expectation and hope that He will fulfill His promise and come again.
The early Christians lived daily with that hope, but over time, it seems as if this promise has faded in the minds of many Christians. Yes, there have been various groups that have predicted the imminent return of Christ on specific days, but the majority of Christians tend to push this aside. The needs of the present are more pressing than thoughts of the future.
However, this is not something that should be ignored or belittled. It is also not a subject for endless, unbiblical speculation. Waiting for Jesus to return helps us greatly by motivating us to keep on track not only in terms of our faith, but how we exercise that faith within our culture and our society. Jesus’ return helps us to be “children of light.”
Paul reminds us—in the context of Jesus’ return—that we are not “of the night or of the darkness.” There is darkness in the world—darkness from broken families, domestic violence, disease, poverty, revolution, persecution, war and genocide. We find that the world approves behaviors and conducts that we do not approve of as Christians. Yet with all that is going on, it is easy to begin to slip “into the night” and reflect or imitate the behavior we see around us.
If we are truly in Christ, then we are “children of the light.” We are to be sober. Our lives should be positive witnesses to those who are in darkness—whether as victims of evil that happens to them or victims of their own bad choices and behavior. There is Light, and He is Jesus.
When Gail and I first went overseas as missionaries over thirty years ago, we ended up working at an institution where our predecessors behaved more as children of the darkness rather than children of the light. We, and the other missionaries who were with us, realized that we needed to show another side to the Church—to the Christian faith. It took awhile to build up trust so that our witness was accepted, but in the end, there were many who came to faith in Christ.
“For God has not destined us for wrath…so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him” (l Thes 5:9-10).
The Rev. Cn. Dr. John Macdonald (MDiv 1986)
Associate Professor of Mission and Evangelism, TrinitySchool for Ministry Director of the Stanway Institute for World Mission and Evangelism