ad·vent – The arrival of a notable person, thing, or event.
As we enter the Advent season, the church is in an interestingly beautiful place in history. We look back and remember Christ’s first coming. The promised Messiah was delivered to us as a baby.
In a nutshell, Jesus Christ came humbly, lived perfectly, died brutally, and rose victoriously. Advent is a time of remembering that.
And yet Advent is also a time where we long for Christ’s second advent. The day that he will come back to rescue the people whom he has redeemed by his blood for his glory. As Christ’s church we joyfully celebrate his first coming and patiently anticipate his second. This is Advent. How fitting to sing “O Come, O Come Emmanuel!”
One of the most daunting and under-explained commands that the church gives to people is telling them to live a Christ-centered life. It’s advice that applies universally, right? I remember when Lauren and I first were married. We received a lot of advice that went something like this, “You want God to bless your marriage? Make sure it’s a Christ-centered one.” What in the world does that really mean? Should we have red letter Bible verses inscribed somewhere in every room of our apartment? Perhaps those rooms would constitute as Christ-centered rooms. I don’t know.
Those kind of questions can sprout up in every context of life. As a worship pastor, I often wonder if my ministry is really a Christ-centered one. Living a Christ-centered life can seem so unattainable -it seems distant to live life in such a way that every facet is saturated with Jesus.
I am finding that the common theme of my struggle to live this so called “Christ-centered life” is where I start. I start with me. Me reading my bible. Me saying the right words at the right time. Me going to church. Me singing the right songs and praying the right prayers. It’s as if I am work my way to Jesus instead of starting with Jesus. When I start with Jesus, I can let the knowledge of who he is and what he has done work its way to me. Don’t get me wrong, being a Christian is a life marked by working hard, and struggling through hard situations. But before, within, and after all the work and struggle, we rest. We rest as we work. We are comforted as we mourn. We are joyful in our sorrow. Why? Because the blood Jesus bled was bled on our behalf, the life Jesus lived was lived in our place, the death Jesus died was for our sin, and the power of God that raised Christ from the dead will resurrect all who believe. (see 1 Cor. 5:21, Col. 1:27).
Living a Christ-centered life is impossible when we start with ourselves and try to work our way to Jesus. God never intended that. Let’s start with Jesus. As we focus on his person and work, maybe we will be changed from the inside out.