Advent Reading – December 22, 2017

Clint Mcdonald – Council Moderator

2 Timothy 4:7-8

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.”

As we draw towards the end of a tumultuous 2017, it’s common to feel a bit anxious about our world heading into 2018. We reflect on a year defined by change and chaos. There is political upheaval. Economically, it continues to be a struggle for most people but the wealthy are richer than ever before. Extreme earth events like hurricanes, earthquakes and floods dominate the news. Culturally and socially there are massive shifts in what is considered good and just and fair. We continue to be confronted by seemingly more brutal, senseless wars. Famines threaten many places in the world. The list goes on and on. There is an overall lack of hope despite all the best efforts and intentions to make this world better. We acknowledge too the many personal stories of trials and tribulations people in our church community have experienced this year.

As a follower of Jesus, how do I respond?  Are fears, anxiety, hopelessness, anger, defeat and despair in our hearts? Maybe there is even indifference!

The verses above suggest something completely different. The struggles of life are not ignored by Paul (“fight the good fight’ does not suggest everything is a bed of roses during this life) but at the same time we are pointed to this hope of the Gospel…Jesus is coming again! We are also pointedly challenged to fight the good fight, finish the race well and remain faithful. That’s a struggle for most of us. How do I do this in the light of Jesus’ imminent return?

I believe our church’s discipleship steps (below) help transform us so that we are personally able to declare these verses above.

  1. Am I connected to Christian community? God has not redeemed us so that we live isolated from our fellow imperfect and broken Christian brothers and sisters. I cannot grow unless I am connected to my spiritual community. Many Christians are trying to do this but it is not God’s plan for spiritual growth.
  2. Is the unconditional love of Jesus a reality of my life and am I modeling that love to my family, spouse, church family and beyond? Speak to someone if His love has never felt real in your life. He died on a cross for us while we were sinners. His love is life giving. If we have not tasted it we cannot model it.
  3. Are you training someone else to obediently follow Jesus. Note it is not training to follow personal opinions or church traditions but Jesus. We are all continuously growing in this area of obedience. Jesus says if you love him you will obey him.
  4. Am I serving the body of Christ and beyond with my gifts. We are Christ’s ambassadors and our lives need to declare the hope of the Gospel to a hopeless world. Ask him to show you how in 2018.

Let’s all eagerly look forward to His appearing!