Today is the first Sunday of Advent. Advent (from adventus, Latin for “coming”) marks the time when the church thinks about the first coming of Jesus Christ as a baby in Bethlehem, and also thinks about the second coming of Jesus Christ in the end times. The focus today is “waiting expectantly”.
The Jews waited expectantly for their Messiah. This expectation is exemplified in Anna and Simeon who rejoiced when they met Jesus as a baby in Jerusalem. Similarly, Christians are told to wait expectantly for the second coming of Christ. We are to live as if that coming could be any moment.
But, apart from the past coming and the future coming – both of which are very important – how should followers of Jesus Christ live in light of the present coming of Jesus? Present coming, you may ask? Yes. While Jesus left this earth physically, he sent his Spirit. In fact, he said that it was better for us to have his Spirit than to have him physically present.
Thus, Jesus is physically present in the Spirit of God who indwells every believer. Jesus came in the past, and he is coming in the future. But, he also comes today. How do we wait expectantly in light of his present coming and future coming?
This is what Paul wrote to Titus:
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. (Titus 2:11-14 ESV)
As we wait for the future, physical coming of Jesus Christ, we wait in the reality of his present, spiritual coming – that is, his presence with us – as Immanuel. But, we do not wait idly. In fact, in light of both his presence and his future coming, we wait with a purpose and a mission.
First, we are to mature in holiness – renouncing ungodliness and worldly passions, and living self-controlled, upright, and godly lives. Second we are to be enthusiastic in our service of other people (zealous for good works). Each of these (holiness and good works) are impossible apart from the real presence of Jesus Christ.
As we wait for Jesus’ future coming, we do not waith alone. No, instead we wait with Jesus. And, we do not wait idly, as if there is nothing more for us here. No, instead we wait with purpose and mission, seeking to submit to the Spirit and to one another in order to mature in both holiness and service.
How are you waiting WITH Jesus?