Today is the first Sunday of Advent. The word “Advent” comes from a Latin word meaning to come, and was typically used in regards to the coming of an important person. So, for the next 27 days, we will be focused on preparing for the arrival of Jesus. Not only do we celebrate his original coming as an infant, but we also anticipate and prepare for his future coming.
Today’s theme is that of eschatological hope, or our hope in the second coming. The Bible tells us we need to be prepared because Jesus can return at any time. The biblical understanding of hope understands the tension of living in God’s kingdom today, even though it has yet to be fully realized. Living in the kingdom of God indicates that we are living a life of peace and joy. However, some of us allow our peace and joy to be negatively impacted by this tension between the here and now and what is to come.
Let me see if I can explain. When bad things happen, and by this we might just be talking about a less than ideal situations, it is easy to lose peace because God’s ways are beyond us. We do not always comprehend how he uses these less than ideal events to purify our hearts and to prepare us for his second coming. When we respond to events with discord instead of peace and hope, we prevent God from working within us to the fullest extent possible.
Alternatively, when one is living by biblical standards, one can achieve a greater level of peace and joy despite what is happening around us. What I mean by this is that when one starts to understand that God has a plan, and that all things work to the good for those who love God, one can start to accept the less than peaceful situations in the world. One can even choose to be at peace despite the tension and discord within one’s environment.
By responding to worldly events with a strong trust in God, we live in the tension of the here and now, while looking towards the fulfillment of God’s reign. We allow him to perfect us in his image, and we trust that his promises of redemption and eternal life will be fulfilled as we allow him to unfold his plan in the here and now.
Spend some time with the Holy Spirit pondering how you are living a life of hope in the fulfillment of God’s promises. Do you see the gift of peace in an acceptance of God’s plan? Do you find yourself living a life that expresses a belief in the second coming, in the creation of a new heaven and earth? Are you allowing him to use the circumstances of your life to prepare you for his coming? Work with the Holy Spirit to find where you need to redirect your life to more fully live in a way that reflects trust in the fulfillment of his promises. Then, make a plan to move your life in a direction of greater trust and hope in God.