The weeks leading up to the coming of Christ are known as "Advent" in the Christian church - a period of waiting, anticipation, and reflection.
During this Advent Season, I've been reading through Tim Keller's Hidden Christmas: The Surprising Truth Behind the Birth of Christ as one way to foster personal relection on Jesus' coming to earth as a baby. (I'm not all the way through it yet, but I know enough to definitely recommend the book.)
In chapter three ("The Fathers of Jesus"), Keller reminds us what the incarnation (Christ coming to earth as a baby) is all about:
The incarnation did not happen merely to let us know that exists. It happened to bring him near, so that he can be with us and we with him" (p. 55).
And then Keller goes on to write about what it means to be with Jesus, and how can cultivate that "with-ness." The questions he is asking are these: "What does it mean to have Jesus in my life? What does it mean to be with Jesus?"
As he develops his responses, one thing Keller mentions - that we can too easily overlook - is that being with Jesus takes courage. Everything he has to say in this section is worthwhile (again, read the whole book), but let me quote from one of Keller's subpoints, that being with Jesus requires the courages to give up your right to self determination.
As you read through the extended quote I've included below, allow this to shape the way you view Advent, and the way you approach the coming of Jesus (and what that means for your life today).
When you come to Christ, you must drop your conditions. What does that mean? It means you have to give up the right to say, 'I will obey you if...I will do this if...' As soon as you say, 'I will obey you if,' that is not obedience at all. You are saying, 'You are my adviser, not my Lord. I will be happy to take your recommendations. And I might even do some of them.' No. If you want Jesus with you, you have to give up the right to self-determination. Self-denial is an act of rebellion against our late-modern culture of self-assertion. But that is what we are called to do. Nothing less.
Looking for some other posts related to Advent? Check these out:
Christian. Husband. Father. Pastor. Learner. Contributor. Reader.