scriptures are an interesting mix. In Numbers, Balaam seems to predict
the coming of the Christ. A star shall advance from Jacob. And
the Psalmist asks the Lord, teach me your ways. Guide me in your truth
and teach me. And in Matthew, Jesus is teaching the people. Seems
pretty happy and upbeat. And yet, the Pharisees immediately question
Christ’s authority to teach.
I’ll tell you up front, I love Advent. Just thinking about the season
makes me smile. Trees and lights. Carols. A time of hope,
joy, expectation and anticipation. Awaiting the coming of Christ.
And yet in a season of such light, there is no shortage of darkness in the
world. At times it seems that every moral standard is tested.
Absolute truth is mocked. War and violence are everywhere. Poverty
and despair abound. In a recent conversation with my brother, he blurted
out that he hates Christmas. I was stunned. But as I thought
about it, I understood. He is currently unemployed. Unemployed
in the season where crass commercialism tells us we have to buy extravagant
gifts for friends and family. I recently read a study by the Institute
for Jewish and Community Research that found that one in every four 18-24
year-olds in America states that they have no religion. They identify
themselves as secular, humanist, ethical-culturalist, agnostic or atheist.
Jesus said that he came so that we could have a fuller life. While
I don’t claim to completely understand this, I do recognize that it is true.
And these young people are separating themselves from the opportunity for
that fuller life. I am committed to the truth of Christ. Yet
for that simple statement, the world may label me arrogant, intolerant or
a fanatic. What can we do about this? As believers, what is our
responsibility to those enveloped in darkness? What can we do to make
a difference? The opportunities are endless. And Jesus demonstrates
one in today’s reading. Teach! Tell others about Christ!
I’m sure some will want to know where you get your authority to teach?
Do you have a teaching certificate? Are you a theologian? Have
you studied at a seminary? For most of us the answer is no. Some
better questions are: Do you love God? Do you want to invest in the
future? Do you want to have an impact? Do you love people?
If you answer yes, that is authority enough. God calls us to this time
of opportunity. So many opportunities to invest our time, talent and treasure.
I currently teach a Sunday School class for kindergartners. I’m sure
some think that a five or six-year-old is too young to understand the idea
of a Savior or that Jesus loves them. You would be dumbfounded how
well they understand. Last night I had the privilege to watch these
kids in our church’s Christmas program. Some were shepherds, some were
sheep and some were angels. And, with radiant smiles, they all sang
about the coming of the Christ child. Nothing is more important than
introducing a person to Christ. By doing so, you have given that person
a chance for a rich and full life. This one small act has the potential
to change the world. My prayer this Advent season is twofold.
For the joy of Christ to be in each heart and for courage to shine the light
of Christ in a needy world.