Saturday, November 26, 2005

Accepting Christ's first coming...

Last Judgment
by GIOTTO di Bondone (b. 1267, Vespignano, d. 1337, Firenze)
from the Web Gallery of Art

You Must Accept Christ's First Coming

I admit that I have a problem with the word Accept when used anywhere near a discussion of faith. I recently saw it in my son's confessional Lutheran catechism materials and temporarily freaked out... quietly to myself...lest to reinforce my son's suspicion that his mother is, indeed, completely crazy. Knowing our pastor well, I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt that the word was used appropriately. That sort of reaction is a remnant of my oversensitivity to false teachings and a reminder of my being blown about in the wind by every false teaching while foolishly drifting from church to church in the Sea of Modern Evangelicalism.

I heard that word used again just last week in Pastor Brook's sermon. Pastor Brooks said something very profound. He said that in order to understand that Jesus Christ will return again we must first accept the first coming of Jesus Christ. What did Jesus Christ accomplish in His first coming to us? He fulfilled prophecy, lived a perfect life, taught many things and then became sin for us. Through His becoming sin and being put to death, we were made free - free from the evitable result of our sin nature which is death. This was done out of love for us; our loving Creator wants us to rejoice Him in eternity, yet His holy nature cannot allow sin into that perfect realm of heaven.

Therefore, the reason we rejoice at Christmas is in remembrance of our Savior's birth which signaled the coming love act of Easter and joyful anticipation of our life to come with God in eternity. Accepting (really, a prompting by the Holy Spirit) what Jesus Christ's first coming truly means is crucial to a Christian's faith. What can I possibly have to be joyful about if it isn't about the fact that my Redeemer already came to redeem me? I spent so many years trying to become less sinful so that I would be found without blame on Judgment Day. I believe that such thinking is the child of pietism, the idea that one can be found blameless by their own works. I have since been taught that the only way I can be found blameless is to be found in Christ, not trying to act Christ-like. In a beautiful reversal of cause and effect, the only way to become more Christ-like is to become more and more aware of how sinful we are and to always reflect on how our only hope is in the birth, life, death and resurrection of Christ Jesus.

by VOS, Marten de(b. 1532, Antwerpen, d. 1603, Antwerpen)
From the Web Gallery of Art

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