Advent: God at the intersection of two worlds
Please read: Luke 1: 26-38
In my last post we saw that we live in a very fearful world and God’s reminder for us all is: fear not! As I reflected further on this, I find that this vital message comes at the intersection of two worlds: The world as it is and what it might be. A world which you and I encounter each day in real life, and a world that we all wish it to be. A world we live in and a world that God has promised in the Scriptures—the Kingdom of God. The intersection between these two realities is a scary place. It’s the place of poverty, politics, power, and prestige. It’s the place of hunger and destitution as well as the experience of a few who are filthy rich. It’s a place where humanity declares that all this talk of the so-called human evolution is but nonsense as our human depravity reveals.
Nevertheless, what is encouraging for me and I hope it will be for you is that into that very scary space, at the intersection of these two worlds, God has intervened. It’s at this very intersection of hopelessness and hope, fear and assurance, anxiety and confidence, that God has decided to be Immanuel—God dwelling with us in our very sinfulness and our brokenness. And when God decided to incarnate, he wasn’t looking for a perfect world to dwell in. He knows there is none. He wasn’t looking for a perfect couple to take care of baby Jesus. He chose Mary and Joseph who were both scared for obvious reasons. God decided to deliver the message of “fear not” to these trembling teenagers. God wasn’t looking for perfect wealthy aristocrats of Jerusalem in those days to announce the birth of his son, Jesus Christ. Instead, he chose the poor shepherds out in the field guarding their flock at night to declare the good news of the birth of Christ. Therefore, today, as you stand at the threshold of two worlds, remember that God is looking for you and me to proclaim the good news of Jesus’ birth to a frightened world. He perfectly knows that you’re not good at it. He still depends on you. Remember with whom did Jesus actually entrust the responsibility of evangelizing the world? A group of twelve timid disciples who had not only failed but denied him when he needed them the most. A band of the twelve who were scared and hiding in Jerusalem were empowered by the Lord through the Holy Spirit to share the gospel of light and joy. And so are we supposed to be doing today.
Therefore, let’s shrug off everything that holds us back and let the Holy Spirit use us, even us, for proclaiming the gospel at the intersection of our broken world and the Kingdom of God.
Come. Lord. Jesus.
The Advent message is clear: Fear not!
Please Read: Luke 1: 26-38
The frightening events around the world today make us fearful. I submit that I am afraid of so many things. If you’re a news junkie like me, you may also be troubled. What kind of world are we living in today? What kind of world are we going to leave behind for our children? What kind of humans are we turning into? Has humanity always been so depraved since the Fall? If the current events are a commentary on who we are as human beings, then, I think instead of trying to be human, we better try to be just more humane! In this fearful context, we are in the midst of celebrating Advent—one of the most sacred seasons in the Christian calendar. We know that it’s a season of preparation for the coming of Christ. Yet, how do we prepare ourselves in this world that is marred by terror and distress?
I believe the sovereign God knows our predicament because fear is one of the first consequences of sin (Genesis 3: 8-10). He knows that we are scared and anxious and has a word of encouragement for us today. This comes from the mouth of angels who visited different people before the birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem. Almost invariably, in all appearances of the angels to different people, they predicated their message with these words: “Fear not” or “Do not be afraid.” (Luke 1: 13, 30; 2: 10; Matthew 1: 20) I am sure situation of the people living in the period before Jesus’ birth was like ours. They didn’t have any prophets for a long time. The word of God was rare. They were ruled by a brutal Roman Empire. Their hopes of the promised Messiah and the Redeemer were fast diminishing. They were a people afraid for the future of Israel and the future of their children. Therefore, the Lord had especially instructed the angels to address the anxieties and fears of his people before they share the message of Christmas to them. The Lord wanted to assure them that He knew they were scared. He wanted to reassure them that God understands our dreads and he wants to allay our fears and fill us instead with hope and joy of the coming of his son Jesus Christ. Yes, God wants us to celebrate in the midst of our fears because the good news is also a good new for our fears. In fact, this good news is much needed in the midst of our terrors and hopelessness. It is only the good news of the coming Messiah that helps us make sense of our world. Only through the good news of the God incarnate is there some hope for a fallen and depraved humanity. Only because of Jesus Christ, we can hope for a better world at the return for Christ to this earth.
So, let’s not lose hope. Let’s not be too fearful. Let’s heed the words of the angels for each one of us: “Fear not.” God wouldn’t scare us into faith, but he also doesn’t want us to continue to live in our fears. He did come down and dwelt among us, the depraved human beings, in order to relieve us from our anxieties and fears. That’s why his name is Immanuel, i.e., God with us! No matter what your fears may be today, he knows each on of you. So, let’s focus on the words of the angels and on this divine fact: “God is with us”. Whatever you may be going through, keep calm and whisper this truth to yourself: God is with me right now. He will be with me no matter what happens around me.
Amen. Come Lord Jesus.