The Hope of the Advent: Leader Edition
The Hope of the Advent is Immanuel. It was that way for the Old Testament saints, New Testament disciples, and it is for us in the church age. The biblical idea of hope is not superficial hopes and dreams that you may hear in a hallmark movie. It is a sure thing or absolute confidence we have in Jesus. Hebrews 11:1, "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for, being convinced of what we do not see. 11:2 For by it the people of old received God's commendation NET Bible). Advent is from the Latin word "Adventus". It is translated in Greek as "Parousia" and can be defined as "coming" or "arrival". Christmas is the celebration of the first Advent of Jesus Christ. It is a time to remember and reflect upon the promises of God as they relate to Jesus and the covenant people of God. It is also a time for us to identify with the covenant people of God as they waited and watched for the first advent. We too, are waiting for the second advent of Jesus Christ. We look forward to a time when Jesus will return for his bride and restore the world. He will reward the righteous in Christ and judge the godless. Immanuel is a special word whose meaning has ancient roots to the beginning of the world. Immanuel, God with us, can first be observed as God scoops up dirt he created and forms Adam. Soon after, he puts Adam to sleep and forms Eve from his side. Not long after this, it is recorded that God walked with Adam in the cool of the day. The Triune God was with his creation from the beginning. Even after the Tempter came and Adam and Eve sinned against God, he made way for them to seek forgiveness and gave them an eventual permanent hope in a coming messiah. Genesis 3:15 has been celebrated for thousands of years as being the first picture of hope for humanity's depraved and damned condition. God said to Satan, Adam, and Eve, "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel." This small verse has given hope to God's covenant people through the centuries. The ultimate fulfillment of this prophecy was when the virgin Mary, under the miraculous hand of the Father, has her womb transformed to bear the Son of God. So, the hope of the advent for us is Immanuel, Christ with us.
The question remains for us as leaders, how does this better help me lead those in my charge? Let me offer at least five ways.
1) We must be aware that we are only temporarily leading people through a broken world to the eternal hope of Christ. Col. 1:26-27 "This message was kept secret for centuries and generations past, but now it has been revealed to God's people. 27 For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you, Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory."
2) We must not be overly discouraged by the internal soul battles that seem to overwhelm us. II Cor. 12:9-10 "But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong."
3) We must not grow distracted by external enemies that slow the work of the Kingdom. Heb. 12:1 "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. 2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith."
4) God's miraculous fulfillment of the first Advent in Christ only proves that the second advent is not only possible, but it will come to pass as it has been laid out in the Word of God. Psalm 33:4-5 "4 For the word of the LORD holds true, and we can trust everything he does. 5 He loves whatever is just and good; the unfailing love of the LORD fills the earth."
5) God is with you as you lead through the Spirit of Christ within you. Rom. 8:9-11 "9 But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.) 10 And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God. 11 The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you."
So, leaders of Wayne Hills, please thank the God for Immanuel this Christmas season. We look forward with confidence at the return of Jesus Christ for his church. It is impossible lead in the long term without hope. In February 1825, Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote a poem with an ending that resounds this sentiment. He writes, “Work without Hope draws nectar in a sieve, And Hope without an object cannot live.” I thank God that we do not work without hope. The object of our hope is the living risen Jesus Christ. Remember the words of I Peter 1:3-7 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”