Sunday, December 15, 2019

Advent 9

2 Timothy 4:1-5

"For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. 
Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them 
a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.

     When we have access to the very Word of God, definitive, decisive, clear, and consistent, why is it that  our ears itch for something else, our eyes look to other gods, our hearts long for self affirmation?

     What better affirmation is there than that God Himself loved us so much that He died for us?  And yet the truth is, that with technological advancement, economic prosperity, and religious freedom we have become lazy, complacent, entitled individuals.  We "have traded the truth of God for a lie, and and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator."  We love the world we have created for ourselves.  It easy to navigate and asks little in the way of adjustment.It gives us what we want.

     The illustration I like to use is a reflection on what often takes place on Christmas morning.  There is a rush to the Christmas tree, cluttered with gifts.  Emotions run high and expectations even higher.  The packages are opened and expressions of gratitude are exchanged, but deep within, there is sometimes a great love for the gift that seem to surmount the love for the giver. Mom and dad may be thanked, while the gift is embraced. And we are left longing for the receiver to run to our open arms and embrace us and be embraced by us.  So too, conversely, there is sometimes, a deep disappointment in both the gift and the giver for not coming through on something someone REALLY wanted.  (I'm sure this never happens in your household!)  A half-hearted "thank you for the socks", which may have been needed more than desired, or the funny looking tie we may never be able to bring ourselves to wear, irrespective of the love in which it was given.

     The Lord God of the universe, Creator of all, comes to save us from our sin, from ourselves, not to affirm our sinfulness, not to stroke us and tell us we're fine just the way we are. Not to give us what we think we want and/or need but exactly what we need and therefore what we should be wanting.  He comes to change us, to redeem us from the mess we have made of our lives.  And that is disappointing to those who have fallen in love with themselves, who have so often been awarded and rewarded for their waywardness,who think they know best what they need and therefor what they have set their hearts on.

     The Truth of God is hard to hear for those who are content in our comfortableness precisely because it calls us to a "work."  It calls us to hard work - to do the good work which God prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10); to work out our salvation with fear and trembling,  for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose (Philippians 2:12-13).  The gift of salvation, when properly received, includes the decision to make Christ Lord of all aspects of our lives.

     Salvation is a difficult thing to deal with.  It is the greatest gift ever given, for the greatest work ever to be done.  But it is not for sissies or snowflakes.  With the gift of salvation (being saved) comes a tremendous burden (making Him Lord).  Enslaving ourselves to the Lordship of Christ our Redeemer is counter to our natural selves, to our sinful, selfish, comfortable lives.  But then again nothing easily accomplished produced anything of true value.

    May the Lord bless each of us this Advent season with renewed hope that we can let go of self and pick up the task of becoming perfect as He is perfect, of becoming Holy as He is Holy, of doing the hard work of really listening, of really looking, or really sacrificing all for the One through whom we can do all things.

     May our ears be unblocked and our eyes opened to hear the "truth that hurts than heals."

     Soli Deo Gloria!

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Questions: 1. What does my level of theological knowledge say about my priorities in my own faith development? By God's grace...