The Half Truth of Christmas

When I was a young boy I heard a lot of things and I remember them from time to time. One of the statements that I remember hearing is:

Jesus is the Reason for the Season.

I remember hearing this and not really thinking anything of it other than what it clearly implied. That the reason we celebrate Christmas is because Jesus, the Christ child was born. As I have grown in my faith and walk with Christ I have begun to question things that I heard when I was a young boy, as we all should.

As believers in Jesus we tend to sometimes say things and believe things that we “think” are biblical, but they aren’t. Even if they aren’t biblical, they sound like something that would be in the Bible and a part of them are true, and yet another part of them are not. The parts that aren’t true are dangerous to our witness and this is one of those half-truths.

No, Jesus is not the reason for the season.

In fact I am more than confident that Jesus would agree with me on this, because Jesus knows that the reason he came was not for himself and that is what that statement implies. That Jesus only came for His benefit, which of course we all know is just not true.

Jesus would say and I believe is clearly saying through me in this blog post that You and I are the reason for the season. Jesus didn’t come for himself or to gain anything, but solely came for your gain and my gain.

He came so that we would recognize a far better way to live.

This Advent season I hope you know in the depths of your heart that you are that important to Him. He loves you and I like there is only one of us to love.

And that is the reason we celebrate Christmas.

Advent: A Practice of Learning How to Wait

Advent is here and the waiting and sense of expectation are upon us. Tonight I begin a two week Advent series entitled, “Waiting” for our Wednesday Night gathering at First Cleburne Student Ministry. As I have been preparing the messages for this series, I have spent a lot of time thinking about waiting in our current culture. Surprisingly we don’t have wait in our culture, in fact, we are encouraged almost every moment of every day NOT to wait.

I am exposed to this more times than most by working with young people. Marketing loves our youth; they are big consumers, and they have the marketing all but perfected in how they encourage them to consume. It seems in the 21st century however we consume a lot of things, but not things that sustain us, build us, and help us live an abundant life.

We consume, yes, but the question is what do we consume?

I had an interesting experience with Verizon Wireless as of late. Verizon gave me a call and informed me in this call that I was due for an early upgrade, here is how the convo went down:

Verizon Salesperson: (VERY EXCITED VOICE) Mr. Alexander I am calling to inform you that you qualify for an early upgrade on your phone! 
Me: Really? That’s interesting. I was under the impression that I was due for an upgrade on November 29th. Is that not the case? 
Verizon Salesperson: Mr. Alexander, yes that is when your upgrade is due, but you can early upgrade right now! 
Me: Well, why would I do that? What is the benefit to getting a new phone right now? 
Verizon Salesperson: The price would be the same so the only benefit is getting a new phone, but if you do it right now I will throw in a new case and external battery! 
Me: No thanks I will wait until I am set for the upgrade. I am a man of my word and when I say I will sign a two year contract I will do that full two years. Thank you for the offer, but I will wait.
Verizon Salesperon: Ok…just so you know there is no charge to upgrade now. It will be a free upgrade.
Me: I understand that, but I will wait. 

The salesperson didn’t know what to do with that. The conversation ended very awkwardly, but it ended nonetheless. Additionally Verizon called me two more times in the month of November, and I had the same conversation, and I also received many text messages as well. They simply didn’t know what to do with the idea of waiting or delayed satisfaction.

As Disciples of Christ a majority of the time we are waiting. It is all in God’s perfect time.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a well-known German theologian from the 1930 and 40’s, once said about advent that: “celebrating Advent means learning how to wait. Waiting is an art which our impatient age has forgotten. We want to pluck the fruit before it has had time to ripen. Greedy eyes are soon disappointed when what they saw as luscious fruit is sour to the taste. In disappointment and disgust they throw it away. The fruit, full of promise rots on the ground. It is rejected without thanks by disappointed hands.

I love the imagery that Bonhoeffer uses by saying we want to pluck the fruit before it has had time to ripen. We don’t need what we think we need. Our inability to wait always leads us to a place of emptiness and bitterness, and God wants for us a fulfilling life! A life that is joyful, loving, and full of grace. An abundant life in Christ!

When we wait on God and follow His timing, we are always led to a place of fulfillment and joy! In John 10:10 Jesus as an full fledged adult talks about that He came to give life and give it abundantly. Let us consider further in closing what Bonhoeffer says about Advent:

“The celebration of Advent is possible only to those who are troubled in soul, who know themselves to be poor and imperfect, and who look forward to something greater to come. For these, it is enough to wait in humble fear until the Holy One himself comes down to us, God in the child in the manger. God comes. The Lord Jesus comes. Christmas comes. Christians rejoice!”

Advent and Waiting go hand in hand, and with them we are compelled to REJOICE as we wait! REJOICE!