Waiting is not always easy.
A bright young allergist told me technology was moving so fast that soon he would be giving me a shot and I’d never be troubled by seasonal allergies again. That was 20 years ago.
He moved on to practice in another place. And I’m still waiting.
More than a decade ago, I heard that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was prohibiting increased volume on television commercials. But I’m still grabbing the remote and hitting descending numbers to knock down the blast of ear annoyance.
Throughout my life, I’ve been told that all the signs of Jesus’ return were lining up. Soon and very soon. But we’re still here.
Promises, promises. Or at least projections, projections.
Waiting to celebrate Jesus’ first appearance on earth, however, has a clearer timetable. One created in the early fourth century by the setting of Dec. 25 as Christmas — and it is almost here.
Time wise, the early events of Jesus’ life get squeezed together in order for everyone to be in the manger. Then there’s a tendency for taking a hiatus until the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus get prime attention.
Often lost — and reflected in the way many professing Christians believe and behave — is the fact that Jesus came to live, not just to die. His earthly life was not filler time between the manager and the cross.
He not only came to live — but also to show us how to live. God’s fuller revelation is missed — and living in contrasting ways gets excused — when it all gets reduced to a divinely planned, sacrificial act of Jesus coming to earth to die on our behalf.
Jesus’ coming is called “incarnation” for a reason. Nothing less than the clearest disclosure of God’s nature and being took place through Jesus — from his birth through the ascension.
We would do well — if Jesus is truly lord and we are truly his followers — to remove the parentheses around Jesus’ time between the manger and the cross. He wasn’t stalling or warming up for the big act; Jesus was showing us God.
He came to earth to reveal the extent of God’s love that would even endure the cruelty of death on a cross. But the crucifixion is not God’s only expression of love through Jesus.
The expansive, inclusive and enduring love of God is shown throughout the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. To downplay the life and teachings of Jesus is to miss a glimpse into the divine.
Oh, there are reasons to avoid such. Following Jesus faithfully calls for doing much more uncomfortable yet meaningful things than singing Christmas carols or the Hallelujah Chorus.
Christmas is a starting point — a grand time to celebrate and remember that Jesus came to live. And he came to show us how to live most abundantly.
Dependable churchgoers often chide those who attend worship services only at Christmastime and on Easter Sunday. Pastors often use them as examples of weak faithfulness in not providing ongoing engagement and support.
However, many dependable churchgoers themselves align their values, attitudes and actions toward others in ways that suggest only the birth and death/resurrection of Jesus really matter.
They love the warmth of an innocent baby and the promise of eternal goodies from Jesus dying and being resurrected. But the life and teachings of Jesus — that call for self-sacrifice, unconditional love, repeated forgiveness — get put into the parentheses of nice but not essential.
But God was not wasting time. Jesus is coming — and we would do well to take in all he reveals.
Executive editor / publisher at Good Faith Media.