By Bob Bunn
Every year, our family follows the same routine. We put the Christmas tree up on Sunday after Thanksgiving—usually while watching a football game. Then, we take it down during the first couple of days of January, usually while watching a movie or a bowl game. And once everything is tucked away in the proper containers, the boxes are hauled up to the attic for another year.
A few years ago, I got to thinking about our ritual. Specifically, I wondered if it symbolized how many Christ followers—including myself—approach Advent. We “unpack” Jesus for a few weeks and enjoy Him being around. We even hit a little spiritual high as the season emphasizes “peace on earth” and “joy to the world.”
Once the season ends, though, we’re not quite sure what to do with the baby in the manger. So, we pack Him up and tuck Him away on a spiritual shelf. That way, we’ll know exactly where to find Him when we need Him again next year.
Of course, that’s not the picture we see in Scripture. It’s true that Jesus’s initial advent occurred in humble settings. After all, you can’t get much more humble than a stable in a tiny town that has seen better days. But that’s a limited view of who Jesus was and is.
Advent isn’t just about the central character in a nativity scene. It also points us toward a King who is coming again.
When Paul wrote his letter to Titus, he talked about Jesus coming to Bethlehem. He confessed that the “grace of God” had already arrived and provided “salvation for all people” (Titus 2:11). God had intersected humanity. The Savior experienced life as one of us so we could experience a personal relationship with Him.
Paul was all about celebrating the birth of Jesus, but He didn’t leave it there. He also celebrated “the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior” (Titus 2:13). The humble Savior is going to make a second appearance, this time as a conquering King. Instead of a temporary sojourn on earth, Jesus is coming to rule and reign forever!
So, the question becomes, What do we do until then? Paul mentioned denying and waiting. The fact that Jesus came the first time means we have a responsibility to deny the ungodliness and lust that characterized our lives before we accepted Jesus (v.12). Yet, the fact that Jesus is coming again means we also wait in anticipation, treating each day like it could be the day of His return (v.13).
You could summarize his message in two words: active waiting. As we wait, we work to fulfill the mission Jesus started in Bethlehem. As a result, we can’t afford to pack Him away on a shelf. On the contrary, we need to put Him on display every hour of every day.
Jesus was born to reign for eternity, and we are called to demonstrate His rule in our lives every day until He returns.