I’m not sure what to make of the slogan, “Jesus is the reason for the season.” I haven’t heard it in a long time- maybe its popularity has waned or I’m just not listening. I get that this Friday marks the beginning of Advent, the coming of Jesus in the church year. Still, I have a hard time sorting out this time of year. For me and probably for many of you, it marks some great memories and some absolutely awful ones. Live long enough and you’ll likely experience your share of both.
I’ve got to say, though, that if I thought my life was busy now, the time beginning with Thanksgiving and continuing through Christmas takes “busy” to another level. There is a brief respite watching the highlights of the Black Friday fights over the latest technology and stuff people really, really, want. What else could be expected when scarcity and deep discounts are added to something desirable? But, after Black Friday comes Cyber Monday which aligns more with my purchasing style. This year I succumbed again without much resistance.
Jesus, and the above notion of the season, need to be separated. Is there a way to teach our children how to make Jesus “the reason for this time of year, the season of Advent?” Yes, but it’s not easy. Here are a couple of thoughts.
First, you’ve got to identify the real Jesus. An internet friend of mine, Matt Richard, has written a good book, titled, Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up?I encourage you to take a look at it.
Secondly, once we know, at least to some degree, who the real Jesus is, we can begin to consider the remarkable event of his coming. How do we know that God loves and cares for us? We’re not going to get a good sense of this by looking at the world around us. He seems absent a lot of the time, especially when we’re going through difficult periods.
How do we know, with certainty, that God loves and cares for us? He sent His Son. Jesus came for you and me – for all of us. This is the message we need to communicate to our children as we begin this season of Advent. And, if they ask, “Why?” Romans 5:7-8 is one answer you can give them.
For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
The act of sacrificing your life for someone else is a rare event. But, sometimes it does happen. And when it does, it’s hard to grapple with. A year ago I was introduced to the story of Arland Williams, a passenger aboard a flight that crashed on take off in Washington DC on January 13, 1982. It killed 78 people. He was one of six people to initially survive, treading water in the frigid Potomac River.
A helicopter was sent to rescue the six survivors. As ropes were dropped, he repeatedly helped the other five people, complete strangers, access the life lines to safety. His remaining strength waned. He died saving others. A brief but powerful reference to Arland Williams was made at the end of a presentation by Trey Gowdy which can be seen here.
Arland’s story of giving his life so that others could live is hard to wrap your mind around. But, it echoes the ultimate sacrifice Christ would make for all of us.
Share the good news of Christ’s coming in this Advent season. And rather than simply criticize the encroaching secularism moving through our culture, live a life of conviction, virtue, and self-sacrifice toward those outside the faith.