BY PAUL DUNK
The advent is an incredible time for the church. We focus in on and celebrate Christ's first coming in anticipation of His second advent:
The restoration of all things.
AND ... let's not forget, advent calendars. Nothing says the second coming of Christ like chocolate. I'm good with it. The wheels off marketing of Christmas doesn't bother me in the least. I know I'm a man who desperately needs God's grace daily and I'm thankful Christ came for sinners like me. If you can find an IRONMAN advent calendar, please pick one up for me. As a recovering narcissist, I completely identify with that guy.
TO TRULY APPRECIATE THE ADVENT, WE HAVE TO BEGIN WITH OUR NEED FOR IT.
I'm not talking about patting grace on the head like you're thankful for it, but when you look in the mirror, you don't think you need it that much. I'm talking about standing toe to toe with your humanity and realizing that if it weren't for the grace of God, this life and this world would be the closest thing to heaven you'd ever know.
The need for the advent is crystal clear in Genesis 6:5-8 where God describes humanity using global statements. You know, the kind of statements that you teach your kids not to use ... "you always, you never, you only" Those are the terms God uses to describe the sin of the human heart in the days of Noah.
As a result of the fall of man, humanity spiraled down into the worst version of itself. We traded the worship of God for the worship of self and it sealed our fate. But the Creator, full of grace, had already begun to move toward His creation to redeem us.
THE SIN OF SELF WORSHIP THAT ENSURED OUR DESTRUCTION HAS BEEN MET WITH AMAZING
GRACE THAT PROMISES RESTORATION.
Let's take minute and pass this scripture through a cross shaped lens. What does it mean and how did Christ fulfill it? How do live today in light of God's law being fulfilled, God's gospel being embraced, having been united to the One who saved us? A rich celebration of the advent must begin by confessing our need for it...
WORSHIP OF GOD FULFILLS US BECAUSE IT SATISFIES OUR SOULS SO WE ARE FREE TO LOVE OTHERS.
Consider how far creation had fallen by Noah's day in Genesis 6. Man was hardwired for worship and to be a lover ... but now, because of sin, at the bedrock of our existence - man loves himself most. Instead of loving the Lawgiver and finding enjoyment in keeping His law, man decided in the garden He'd make his own law. And, like a gear that was unhappy with it's placement in an infinitely complex machine, man decided to reposition himself and fell. Our universe has been out of sync, grinding it's gears and awaiting restoration ever since.
WORSHIP OF SELF DESTROYS US BECAUSE WE USE AND CONTROL IN AN EFFORT TO SATISFY
THE LONGING IN OUR SOULS.
At the heart of every conflict, you have a human heart, loving itself most. There is an endless catalogue of evil available to us when we live our lives in self worship. There is nothing our minds can't justify if our will has determined to pursue it because our heart has already chosen it.
THE GRACE OF GOD RESTORES US BY REPLACING THE RESTLESS WORSHIP OF SELF WITH
THE RESTFUL WORSHIP OF CHRIST.
In the beholding of Christ, the Spirit reforms our hearts and we desire different behavior. If we could choose our way into a life that pleased the Father, we wouldn't need the Spirit or the Son. As in the days of Noah, our hearts are prone to wander. The struggle with sin is real. In our friendships, work relationships, marriages and families - we still want to love ourselves most and our worship of self will always escalate into conflict.
The Father planned your redemption before time, The Son accomplished your redemption in His time and the Spirit applies your redemption in our time. the Creator God is the Redeeming God.
The Holy Spirit goes into the dark, unevangelized places of your heart to eradicate your self worship and draw you into true worship. He is, more and more, reorienting your heart so that the toxic love you have for your sin is replaced with a liberating love for your Savior.
In the advent season, we embrace the sad reality that our hearts are still prone to betray God, yet we celebrate the liberating reality that Christ’s saving work is making all things new and we anticipate that one day, He will restore everything.
The advent reminds us that His first coming was humble and excites us because His second coming won’t be.
Paul is a graduate of Knox Theological Seminary and the founding pastor of KW Redeemer in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario. He is an MCO race school graduate, but presently his main hobby is drinking espresso because it's cheaper than fixing cars. Paul and Susan live in Waterloo with their three children.