Deuteronomy 30: 10-20
As we enter the season of Advent, we reflect on the lessons. The 3rd lesson from Ecclesiastes, reminds us that there is a set time for everything. For us now in the western church, it is the time of Advent. Advent comes from a Latin word which means to come. Advent has the double sense of preparing for the coming of Christ, his first coming when he was born into the world as a little child to save the world, and for his second coming, when he will come to judge the world.
The question is, are we ready. Deuteronomy tells us that if we listen to the law and obey it, then we shall live and multiply. While of course in its initial sense, this reading is for the Jews getting ready to enter the promised land, it is also for Christians. God has set before us the way of life and of death. Jesus, who is the Law has come down for us, so we do not need to seek in heaven for him, nor anywhere else. He is as close as our heart, if we truly seek him, and he has given us his word, and his word can be obeyed.
Do we love Jesus then? Love is what gives us the power to obey. Love gave me the power to give up tobacco because I loved the kids in the church enough to know I didn't want to be a bad example. Love for family allows us to sacrifice for them, and to live according to the spirit. Love for Jesus allows us to obey his laws. Are his laws tough? Without love they are. If we are having trouble following God's word, we need to ask ourselves, "Have I really accepted Jesus?" What does this mean? In the new Testament, we are told, "if you believe in your heart and confess with your lips you shall be saved." In Mark, we are told, if you believe and are baptised, you will be saved." We are also told , "Those who call on the name of the Lord will be saved." Are these mutually exclusive? NO they describe a process. We must believe in the Lord Jesus Christ with our hearts. We must call upon his name, and we must confess our belief before witnesses, the church, and we must be baptised. All of these ingredients are necessary. Baptism shows we are obedient to him and is a sign we have passed into new life, and is a sacrament by which we are joined to the church. Does this mean if you accept Jesus, and die before you have a chance to be baptised, that you will be condemned? Clearly not, but I would wonder about your salvation if you put off being baptised.
Salvation is not about fire insurance. Many say they have accepted Christ as Saviour, but their lives do not show it. When we are saved, (made whole), we are truly made whole, maybe not all at once, but Jesus will be moving in our hearts and minds so that he will be our Lord indeed. Often we fall away, sometimes because there was no true faith to begin with, and sometimes because we never achieved the discipline we need to be true disciples.
Ask yourself, "Do I truly love Jesus move than anything? Do I love him more than _______________(wife, kids, money, tennis, football, soccer, whatever)? Where do I spend my time? How do I spend my money? Do I need to make a change? Am I ready for Jesus to come back?
What would you do different, if you knew that Jesus would return tomorrow? That is the point of Advent. To figure out what we would do different if he was coming back tomorrow and to do it. I myself have cut back my time with the TV and increased time with the Bible. Our love relationship with Jesus is only strengthened by studying his work, and through prayer.
Mar Michael Abportus, OSL