There’s a certain level of expectation you reach when you wait for something you really want. This would be the time where I would share a heartfelt story about expecting a child and the joys that come with that level of expectation, but since I don’t have one I will share the next best thing. I was spending a day with a friend from college when we decided to order a pizza. Normally, waiting for a pizza would be no big deal, but this was no ordinary order. This was no ordinary order because I had coupons. The coupons were for a new pizza place that I had not previously tried, so we decided to give it a shot. My friend and I ordered a large pizza and anxiously waited for its arrival that would take approximately 30 minutes. When the pizza finally arrived, the smell filled the room and through our nostrils, our stomachs cried out for the delicious pizza that sat before us. We took a bite of this new pizza and waited as our taste buds gave us a proverbial “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” in approval. I can tell you how the pizza tasted by telling you that I have not ordered from there since. It wasn’t that the pizza was bad, it’s just that it wasn’t that good. In the context of waiting for delicious food, our expectation for this pizza was great. You probably have your own story of expectations and perhaps for you it was much greater than food. We know the feeling of anxiously waiting for something and we remember our reaction when that something made its arrival. That expectation could be as small as pizza or an order on Amazon, or it could be something as big as waiting for your first child to be born. Whatever that common denominator is for you, we would all agree that waiting for something is difficult.
For those who follow Christ, we are approaching the season of Advent. Advent is the season where we celebrate the arrival of Jesus Christ. The literal meaning of advent is “coming” or arrival” and it refers to the coming of Jesus Christ to the earth to provide salvation by his life, death, resurrection and ascension. In this time we look at the “Who?” and “Why?” of the season and celebrate the coming of the promised Messiah. The “Who?” of the season is, of course, Jesus Christ. Jesus is the only Son of God who would go on to die and defeat death for those who would place their faith in him. The “Why?” is a more complicated issue. Jesus came because we fell into sin and could not dig ourselves out with our good deeds and well-meaning demeanors. Try as we might, our righteousness could not appease a holy God and for that we were condemned by the sins that entangled us (Hebrews 12:1).
This would be the part of the story where our taste buds would give us the “thumbs down” because the pizza really wasn’t that great. Our expectation was let down because we were left wanting a better outcome. However, this is an entirely different outcome than ordinary pizza. This expectation comes because our Savior was put in human likeness (Philippians 2:7). Having put on the ordinary human likeness, Jesus lived as we did in a sin filled world full of sinners who sin and judge harshly for sinning. Though Jesus lived in our complicated world, he lived like no one else because he himself lived a sinless life. Jesus living this sinless life is good news to us because we are sinners. In expecting the arrival of the coming Messiah, God knew what the outcome would be for his only Son. God knew that Jesus would be loved in one moment and crucified in the next. Knowing this, God sent Jesus because he wanted me and my fellow sinners to know how wide and long and high his love is for us (Ephesians 3:18).
To those who do not follow Christ, in this season of Advent, I ask you to reconsider what you may think about the Church. The Church is a body of sinners covered by a perfect and sinless Savior. The Church is the body of believers who have given their lives over to Jesus and are to be his hands and feet in a dark place. We’re not perfect by any stretch of the imagination and we constantly make mistakes. What we have in this Body is Jesus Christ. Jesus loved us so much that he willingly died so that we could have eternal life (John 3:16). In this season I ask you to take another look at what the Church is. I’m sorry if you were hurt in the past by “church people.” Know that we are not perfect even though we like to think we are at times and by and large, most of us are just trying to live for the Savior who loved us despite our shortcomings.
To those who place their faith in Christ, in this season of Advent, live differently. Instead of getting caught up in the gifts and putting on a smiling face for difficult relatives, live in a joyous expectation of Jesus Christ who came to this earth to give you and I eternal life because of his sacrifice. I love Christmas and all the weird traditions the holiday comes with, but please see Christ. Jesus truly is the reason for the season and to miss that fact would be to forget that God knowingly sent his son into a world that would in one moment celebrate him and in the next crucify him, and all to show his great love for us.
Advent is the season of expecting the Savior to be born, but Advent didn’t end when Jesus was born. We await a return of Jesus and when he comes again, he will not be swaddled and laying in a manger, but will appear in all his power and glory. For those who place their faith in Christ, when Jesus returns, what will you be doing? We could easily sit on our toys so no one else can play or we could share what we have. Living in expectation of Jesus is not lounging around waiting for your number to be called, but is a joyous expectation that leads you to share this great joy with those around you. The choice is yours, Church.
Hebrews 12:1 // Ephesians 3:18 // John 3:16 // Luke 2 // Matthew 25:31-46