Saturday, December 24, 2005

An Advent Thought on Christmas Eve

Recently I've been reading 1 & 2 Timothy, and have been richly blessed through the reading of them. I'm not saying that my eyes would normally miss some parts of what is contained in the Bible (well, actually, that may well be true...), but reading parts of the Bible during specific seasons of the year can help bring out new features which I haven't noticed before.

One such was last night, in 2 Timothy 4 - have a look:

'Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.' (2 Tim 4:8)

Those who have loved his appearing. That set me thinking. The message of Advent, Jesus' return, is indeed sure and certain - he is coming! But perhaps the criteria for the judgement (to be a bit crude for a moment), is how we will respond to his appearing - the award or reward is for those who have loved his appearing. We can therefore assume that those who haven't loved his appearing won't be receiving an award.

But maybe we should turn it round the other way... if we are saved, then we will be looking forward to Jesus' return, and the reward will come with it. If our hope is in Jesus' return, then we will indeed be looking forward to him coming, and love his appearing.

So who will there be that could possibly not like his return? The way modern society seems to think, and even the church to some extent, is that if Jesus should possibly come back, then either everyone will be afraid of him, or else he won't be coming in judgement - that we'll have a 'cuddly Jesus' when he comes. And how did I come to this conclusion? Well, consider one advent hymn, which is perhaps my favourite, in which a verse was changed from this:

Every eye shall now behold him, Robed in dreadful majesty
Those who set at nought and sold him, Pierced and nailed him to the Tree;
Deeply wailing, Shall the true Messiah see.

To this:

Every eye shall now behold him, robed in dreadful majesty,
We who set at nought and sold him, pierced and nailed him to the tree,
Lord, have mercy, Let us all thine Advent see.

So what has changed? Well, we have moved from a biblical view of the second coming (based on Revelation 1:7), to the view that we all will be afraid of Jesus' coming. Is it some form of political correctness creeping into the church, and a fear of being labelled as anti-Semitic, in moving away from the 'those who pierced him' idea? Or is it some sort of false humility on the part of those within the church? But surely there is no condemnation for the believer - those who have loved his appearing, and therefore no need to plead for mercy, as we are covered by the Blood of Jesus?

So on this Christmas Eve, as we come to the end of the season of Advent and move into the season of Christmas - are you looking forward to Jesus' return, so that when he comes, you will have loved his appearing?

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