Advent Devotional — Tuesday, December 18

December 18, 2007, 9:00 am; posted by
Filed under Advent, Articles, Mike J  | No Comments

Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Because you have kept my commandment to persevere, I will keep you safe in the time of trial which is coming for the whole world, to put the people of the world to the test. I am coming soon: hold firmly to what you already have, and let no one take your victor’s crown away from you. Anyone who proves victorious I will make into a pillar in the sanctuary of my God, and it will stay there for ever; I will inscribe on it the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem which is coming down from my God in heaven, and my own new name as well.” (Revelation 3:10-14, from the Morning Reading in The Divine Hours)

Sometimes, we think of Advent as just a precursor to Christmas. If we use Advent for spiritual preparation, we think of it as preparing the way for Jesus to come into our hearts in a new, spiritual way.

But Advent is more than that, because the Bible talks repeatedly about Christ’s return, a time when Christ will come back to the earth in a tangible, physical way. By paying deeper attention to matters of the spirit at this time of year, we also are preparing ourselves for that return of Christ, making room for Him in our hearts and minds.

The New Testament was written in a time when people expected that return to come imminently. Much of the New Testament, including this passage, is taken up with urging Christians to persevere until that day comes. Though we do not expect Christ’s return soon (but who can say?), the word of perseverance is a good one. Like the early Christians, we find ourselves in a society that is increasingly hostile to our beliefs. The ignorant vitriol of the new crop of atheist writers like Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins has swayed the hearts of many people against God.

There is also a more subtle sort of secularism at work in the suburbs, which treats Christianity with a velvet barbarism, so if our children will play sports or go to birthday parties, they must do so on Sunday mornings. In such a world, we as Christians should always be striving to represent Christ well. Our lives should be characterized by gentleness, honor, nobility, and discipline. In the midst of a culture that glorifies self-destruction in so many ways, Christians must persevere in living an abundant life, even when that life is peculiar or out of place in the world. Could our life seem anything but strange to people who have not known the joy of knowing God?

Ancient Christians sensed this tension between the Christian and pagan ways of life. The Desert Fathers withdrew to solitary living in order to preserve the Christian way. Eventually, monasteries developed with the same goal: to establish and preserve some community on earth that would live out the ideals of Christ.

Maybe a good call for us modern Christians is to reclaim a streak of those early monks and nuns. Even as we go about our daily lives, we must preserve a way of living and not capitulate to a death-dealing culture. In doing this, we prepare ourselves to receive Christ with joy rather than fear when He comes again.


Leave a comment!