Advent is all about Jesus’ arrival - at both Christmastime and at the end of all human time. And, this week, we want to orient our hearts to look for and see “Jesus-things”.
Here’s the point: Look for what God is looking for and maybe we’ll begin to see Jesus’ “advent” in a whole new way.
Let’s start with the obvious: you don’t need to go very far to see the shadows of Christmas.
The many things we cherish are, no doubt, shadows of the arrival of Jesus at Christmastime.
Now, you can call me a “Scrooge” when I say this: while all of these shadows are good and helpful, I have not yet found a place in the Bible where Christmas lights, rich food, holiday trees and ornaments, candy canes, or presents are pointing the way to Jesus. They’re all very much a cultural expression of an ancient truth. Again - they’re helpful… they’re just not in the Bible.
So, as we turn the corner in our Advent journey to focus on the hope that Jesus brings, let’s take a moment and look at five Jesus-things God looks for… and if it’s good enough for God - it’s probably good enough for us, too.
Look for what God is looking for and maybe we’ll begin to see Jesus’ “advent” in a whole new way.
Here we go...
Humble Servanthood - Luke 1:48 says that when Jesus arrives as a baby, God looks for humility and a servant’s heart. Beyonce is right when she said, “God is God and I am not”. That’s humility. And servanthood is joyfully responding to the work of God through praising the One who is God and loving the people and creation God gives to us.
In fact, Luke 1:52 actually says when Jesus arrives, that God replaces the arrogant and prideful people with those who are humble servants. This is true both at Christmas and at the end of human time.
How is my heart feeling about God being God and me not being God? Am I OK with that? Is there something I need to change in my thinking or feeling that will allow me to be OK with this truth?
“God is God and I am not”.
A fear of God - In Luke 1:50, God looks for those who demonstrate a reverent honor and respect toward what God can do - namely, give them mercy. Mercy is receiving undeserved favor. God looks for the undeserving and makes them deserving of His unconditional love, forgiveness, and power. It’s like a Christmas present. It’s yours… but you need to freely receive it and own it.
The ironic thing is that the more aware we become of God’s mercy given to us in Jesus, we develop a deeper honor and respect for God. Let that sit on your mind for a while and see where it leads you.
How much do I need God’s unconditional and undeserved mercy? Am I in awe of this, or do I take it for granted? Lord, forgive me when I don’t honor and respect this gift!
The more aware we become of God’s mercy given to us in Jesus, we develop a deeper honor and respect for God.
The proud - Yes - Luke 1:51 does seem to say that God looks for the proud. When God sees them, He doesn’t bury them in guilt, shame, or cancel them like we ordinarily would want to do (hello, social media?). Rather God sees them (that’s grace!) and He allows them to be scattered in their own thoughts, pride, and arrogance.
Let’s be honest, sometimes we discount the work God is already doing in the lives of people and think that we must be the power behind the life change. That’s not how God works. God convicts us by showing us our “scattered mindedness”. I’m reminded of Peter’s words, “Lord, to who else would we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68).
For the proud, the words of Joel 2:13 resonate: “Return to the Lord, your God, for He is gracious and merciful. Slow to anger and abounding in unconditional love”.
Where in my life am I proud? May I return to you in all areas of my life… make me more like Jesus. You alone have the words of eternal life.
“Return to the Lord, your God, for He is gracious and merciful. Slow to anger and abounding in unconditional love”
Hungry people - Luke 1:53 lifts up the hungry in body and spirit. Where are the hungry bellies and souls around you? Let’s follow Jesus’ example when He feeds people on the mountaintops and valleys, front rooms and backrooms with His teaching, His healing, bread and wine, and the loaves and fish that is passed around with the Zacchaeus' (Luke 19) and Nicodemouses (John 3) in our lives.
Am I “hungry” for you? Do I want more of your Word? Do I crave more of your presence? Or, do I starve myself by relying on my own body weight to sustain me throughout the day?
Where are the hungry bellies and souls around you?
Rich people - It seems as if God looks for rich people and empties their bank accounts. Now before we think of socialism or go all Robin Hood, let’s look at what Jesus actually does. Jesus never “robs” people. Jesus never “takes from Peter to pay Paul”. Instead, Jesus says things like, “give to Caesar what is Caesar's and God what is God’s” (Mark 12:17).
We also see rich people walking away from Jesus (Matthew 19:22 and Mark 10:22). They aren’t walking away because Jesus sent them away, but rather Jesus’ way of living meant that they had to part with their hard earned or inherited riches. . . not because they "have" to - but because they "get" to. They were sad because they so wanted to follow Jesus, but they also wanted to part with something that became part of their identity.
For you, does your wealth shape your lifestyle of following Jesus? Or, does your lifestyle of following Jesus shape what you do with your wealth?
By the way, I’m just pointing out what Mary, Jesus’ mother sees when Jesus arrives in her tummy. Check out her song in Luke 1:46-55.
Jesus’ way of living meant that you must part with your hard earned or inherited riches... not because you "have" to - rather, because you "get" to.
Here’s the point: If it’s good enough for God to look for - it’s good enough for me, too.
Keep looking for the things God is looking for and maybe we’ll begin to see Jesus’ arrival in a whole new way.
Jesus has come. Jesus is risen. Jesus will come again.
Meet Pastor Tim
Tim Bayer has served as Our Savior's Lead Pastor since September 2019. He also serves as an Adjunct Instructor at Concordia University - Irvine, a National Leadership Facilitator and Resource, and a Community Mental Health First Aid Instructor. Tim studied sociology, psychology, and theology prior to earning his M.Div at Concordia Seminary - St. Louis. He has also is a candidate for an Ed.D (ABD) in Transformational Leadership. He is married to Beth and they have three young children. Together, they enjoy exploring the outdoors, experiencing culture, and pizza and movie nights.