It’s easy to miss the bigger picture, especially when so much is going on around us. Every year during Advent, my family seeks to engage in and reflect on the story of the coming of Christ. But each year (prior to 2020, that is) seems to bring with it a bundle of activity that keeps us from getting our eyes on the big picture. Staff Christmas parties, school music programs, the trek down to the city center to see the lighting of the Christmas tree, watching as many Christmas films as we can, shopping excursions, family gatherings—these all seemed to crowd their way into a month in which we endeavored to focus on the big picture of Christ.
In a way, we can reduce the big picture of Advent down to a smaller field of view, reflecting on Christ’s first coming. We would see a baby, a manger, road-weary parents, shepherds, angels, and even wise men, all of which would reduce the grand story of the coming of Christ to the birth of Jesus some two thousand years ago. End of story—wash, rinse, dry, repeat next year.
Our reading today pulls our perspective of Advent out of Bethlehem’s singular event and broadens our view to a larger purpose. Namely, that Christ has come to bring the kingdom of God to earth. Daniel’s interpretation of King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream plays out the rise and fall of the ancient nations, with the coming of the greatest kingdom. Breaking in on Rome, the most powerful empire at that time, the kingdom of God enters the world with the arrival of Christ, the one who has been given all dominion and authority (Daniel 7:13–14). This King and His kingdom are unlike the governments and leaders of this world. In Christ, we have a heavenly, eternal, glorious kingdom (John 18:36). So, the Christmas story isn’t just a moment in history. It is the very unfolding of history.
From that vantage point, we should be asking ourselves what the King and His kingdom have to do with our lives. Jesus invites us to become citizens of His glorious, advancing kingdom by repentance and believing the good news (Mark 1:15). We lay down our attempts to build our own empires and embrace the glorious King who died to eradicate our hearts’ corruption and the penalty we incurred due to our sin and defection. As new citizens of His kingdom, we join Him in praying that His kingdom come and His will be done, on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:10). We get about living lives of mercy, justice, and goodness for the glory of God.
While the world chases the chaos of rising and falling political domains, we have been given the eternal King. He has come to build and advance His glorious kingdom. As Christ-followers, we are called to receive that gift, humble ourselves, and join Him in the spreading of His kingdom.
Lord, may Your kingdom come and Your will be done here on earth, just as it is in heaven. Amen.
Written by Jeremy Writebol