Yesterday, on Thanksgiving, I met a man of my generation who had come to faith in Jesus in the 1970’s during the “Jesus People” spiritual movement that swept America at that time. As he told me his story about conversion, about finding purpose in Christ, about starting Bible Studies just 2 weeks after cracking open the Bible for the first time, my heart welled up with emotion and I could not help murmur a prayer – “Lord, do it again!” So many came to faith in that time. So many churches were built. There were so many ministries established. The doctrine of the “Second Coming” of the Lord was a major theme.
Christians today probably find it hard to even imagine just how intensely we (yes, I was part of that revival) expected the imminent Return of the Lord. As happens, the doctrine became unbalanced and what I call “Rapture” fever took over, skewing a wonderful doctrine of hope into a message of fear and judgment. Some of you will remember those terribly made movies that were shown in every evangelical church’s Sunday night meetings; “Thief in the Night” and “Distant Thunder” They scared the sin out of Christians for at least a week every time we saw one of them!
We didn’t want to be “left behind” to face the horrors of the Tribulation era and the rule of the Anti-Christ. Prophecy preachers saw signs of the Return of Christ in every newspaper article and painted fantastic pictures of a world in flames which awaited anyone not ‘ready for the coming of the Lord!‘ At least for me what the Bible terms the “Blessed Hope” became anything but blessed or hopeful!
With a better grasp of the Bible’s prophecy texts and the grace of God, I still anticipate the coming of the Lord, but in a much more hopeful way. I love the message of Advent with the familiar themes of hope, peace, joy, and love, the annual reminder that the One who came to us as a Baby in a manger will return to us as the King of Kings. Advent reminds us that the story is not finished just yet, not for us individually nor for the Church.
This Sunday as we begin to celebrate Advent, how I pray that each of us will be renewed in true hope. I pray that God, the Spirit, will lift our eyes so that we will see, once again, that we are eternal creatures, meant for more than a few years of struggle on this earth, destined by His Plan to live in the fullness of His reign. When we sing the songs that tell us about God’s choice to step over the threshold of eternity and into time, humbling Himself to become a man, let’s rejoice. And, let’s remember, anew, Advent’s most wonderful message: the Blessed Hope that Christ will come again.
In your prayers and ponderings today think on these words from the Word.
“Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen.” (Revelation 1:7, NIV)
“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”
Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son.” (Revelation 21:4-7, NIV)
The promised return of the King will change not only perspective but life itself!
This Advent worship the King!
Connect the Incarnation and the Revelation; the Baby and the King of Glory.
Advent will take on new meaning – not only of remembering a baby’s birth, but of hope of the King’s coronation.
Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King!
Let ev’ry heart prepare Him room,
and Heav’n and nature sing, and Heav’n and nature sing,
and Heav’n and Heav’n and nature sing!
Isaac Watts, public domain