Read: Revelation 1:4-8
During advent, we celebrate a tripartite arriving. We joyfully ponder the historical arrival of Jesus – emptied of power and riches, born in a manger. We eagerly anticipate the second physical arrival of Jesus to usher in the fullness of His Kingdom. We fervently seek the daily arrival of Jesus in our own hearts. (This arrival is not the arrival of Jesus so much as it is the arrival of our awareness. Daily we must awake from our spiritual slumber to the reality of His presence where we, too, with Jacob can declare: “Surely God was in the place and I did not know it.” Genesis 28:16).
As we near Christmas and Advent draws to a close, be careful not to miss the words the Revelator writes to us (yes, the passage is to the ‘seven churches’ in Asia specifically – but there were already more than seven churches that were in Asia, so we understand ‘seven’ used symbolically as whole or complete) in this passage. It’s easy to pass over those words without giving them the weight they deserve. So here are some activities that can help us not miss the arrival:
- Consider the gravity of receiving grace and peace from the Triune God. That alone is more than we deserve but by Jesus’s actions we have been individually freed from our slavery to sin, made corporately into a kingdom, and transformed into priests to the Most High.
- Contemplate the meaning that Jesus has loosed you from your sins by his blood. The Israelites, enslaved by Egypt, were freed by royal decree because they were protected by blood when all the firstborn in the land died (Exodus 12:21-31). Now we are freed from our enslavement by royal decree because of the blood of the firstborn of the dead.
- Meditate on the ramifications of being priests to He who was before there was a before, He who is now, and He who at the end of all things continues. (Maybe do this one with a pre-emptive aspirin. It could produce an awe-inspired headache.)
- Imagine what it will be like to see Christ return.
When doing these exercises, did you wonder why we have this freedom, kingdom and priesthood? Love. Love is the lynchpin and consummation of these things. It was love for us that compelled Christ to leave the comforts and riches of the heavenly throne to be born as a helpless child in utter poverty. It was love that demanded Christ to persevere to the cross and suffer in our stead even into death. It was love that prompted Christ to go prepare a place for us and send His promised Spirit. It is love that proves that He will return again for us.
Love precedes, presides and perdures.
This is all great and magnificent. However, if all you are doing is thinking intellectually about this love, and not experiencing it, then, for you, it is relatively meaningless. This season with be just another Christmas with shopping and parties and busyness. Maybe you will have a few joyful and meaningful moments pondering the birth of Jesus. You might even have a modest yearning for His coming so that all the earthly chaos around you comes to an end. Those experiences are well and good. But – and this is important — they pale in comparison to living with, and being aware of, God’s perfect and vital love within you.
Take a short pause wherever you are, quiet yourself, and ponder, not just with your mind but your whole being, that the Before the Beginning and After the End Himself loves you. That Jesus, the ruler of all the rulers of earth, loves you. Wait for that realization – anticipate it! Receiving the love of Christ into your being right now, hearing the Spirit speak his love to you, is the most important thing you can do today. This isn’t about eternal salvation; this is about being full of life and joy and going about your way today with all of that spilling out of you onto those around you. Anything you do, any deed, that isn’t motivated from and proceeding out of the overflow of God’s perfect love in you falls short of its potential. Think of the deed like a dimly lit bulb – it will still provide light to a dark room, but it’s lacking its full intensity.
Each day that you receive His love is a day that you walk around in the fullness of His intention for you – being part of His Kingdom and being a priest. Therefore, today, ponder God’s love for you until it penetrates and prevails upon your heart.
Behold! He is coming! Amen.
– Josh Mercer