I heard a snippet on a Christian radio station this morning that stopped me in my tracks. The speaker was discussing the history and meaning of Advent. It was all quite interesting. Our family has always celebrated Advent– it is a special part of our Christmas holiday season. What made my jaw drop was his statement that we should anticipate the Advent of our King with joy and dread. Wait, what?
Dread? This word is defined as “great apprehension, trepidation, fear, angst, anxiety, unease, disquiet”. What a horrid thought! We as Christians, children of our coming King, should not live in dread of His return. If we have believed in Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the living God, then by God’s grace through faith we are redeemed– forgiven of all sin, washed clean, clothed in Jesus’ righteousness. We should have nothing to fear from God when standing before Him in Jesus.
Joy to the world! The Lord is come! Let earth receive her King! In my heart, I believe that we can freely and joyfully celebrate that Jesus our Messiah came to us as a baby over 2,000 years ago.
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” ~ John 1:14
O Come, O Come, Emmanuel. Because we belong to Jesus, there is great anticipation in our hearts, as we await the second coming of our King. We can look forward to the moment when He plucks us out of and away from this earth at the Rapture.
“Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.” ~ 1 Thessalonians 4:17
We can also look forward to the day when He puts an end to the evil and injustice. Though the “Day of the LORD” will be great and terrible, we who are redeemed have nothing to fear or dread. It should, however, put sorrow into our spirits to know that many will perish apart from God, choosing to reject Jesus as Messiah and King. And this sorrow should move us to speak out and share our good news, the Gospel message of hope to the world around us.
For those who reject Jesus, or who have not yet decided to place their faith in Him, then yes, there is reason to dread.
“Blow the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in My holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble; for the day of the LORD is coming, for it is at hand: a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, like the morning clouds spread over the mountains…
The earth quakes before them, the heavens tremble; the sun and moon grow dark, and the stars diminish their brightness. The LORD gives voice before His army, for His camp is very great; for strong is the One who executes His word. For the day of the LORD is great and very terrible; who can endure it?” ~ Joel 2:1-2a, 10-11
But, oh, how Jesus loves each and every one of us!
“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” ~ 2 Peter 3:9
Have you placed your trust in Jesus? Have you recognized your need for a Saviour, believed that Jesus paid the price for your sin, and accepted the gift He offered you by dying in your place on the cross?
“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” ~ Romans 3:23; 6:23
Have you received God’s grace ~ His unearned, undeserved forgiveness and love and mercy and kindness? Have you been redeemed?
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” ~ Ephesians 2:8-9
Why not accept the greatest gift of love ever given?
” ‘For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.’ ” ~ John 3:16-17
Oh fellow believers, where is your peace? Where is your joy?
” ‘Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid…
These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.’ ” ~ John 14:27; 15:11
Where is God’s grace? We must put aside the legalism and dread, and put on the love, peace, and joy of Jesus Christ. Especially at this season of the year, when we have opportunities to love others in tangible ways and radiate the joy and peace that come from knowing and walking with our Saviour!
Go, tell it on the mountain, that Jesus Christ is born!